The Stone, # 2

The first entry in the series of contemporary philosophers that the NY Times is running was Simon Critchley (discussed here and here).  The second is philosopher and art critic Arthur Danto, who provides reflections on a piece of performance art at MoMA.  The work is “The artist is present,” and it is created and  performed by Marina Abramović, with various members of  the audience also entering into the work.  Here’s a clip of what the work looked like at one stage.  Later the table was removed:

I was puzzle by Danto’s piece.  It was good to be reminded of some of the obvious features of performance art.  I think I had expected some more discussion of what one might bring as a philosopher to such a work.  Still, let us know what you think.

A fascinating set of pictures of those sitting with Marina is here.  There’s an interesting piece on the work at the New York Review of Books.  Here’s a brief profile from the New Yorker and its short commentary on the show.

5 thoughts on “The Stone, # 2

  1. I don’t get it. People stand on line to look at this woman. I stand on line to look at the woman who recharges my metro pass. Sorry, but I am hopeless dense. Could someone explain what the point is?

  2. amos, perhaps looking at the faces would give you some idea of one difference.

    Someone says somewhere that this is great art because it is very difficult and beautiful.

    It also certainly is a public performance, with an audience and in an art space. The lack of transaction is probably also part of it.

  3. So if an artist (that is, I suppose, someone who others recognize as an artist) does it in an art space, it’s art.
    However, I imagine that you don’t think that if a philosopher does it in a philosophy text, it’s philosophy. Why is art so special? Why is anything that an artist does in an art space art and why isn’t that true for philosophers doing things in a philosophy space (say, a text or a classroom) or for cooks doing things in a cooking space (a kitchen)? I’m not saying that the performance in question isn’t art: I’m just curious why people call it art. By the way, I don’t follow the contemporary art-scene at all: I’m totally and innocently ignorant of all that occurs in the art world.

  4. Amos, there are as many theories of art as there are words on this page. It would have been nice if Danto had advanced one such theory in support of his commentary, but alas. Assuming he still holds to his classic “artworld” theory, he thinks this is art because other members of the artworld consider it art and it’s creating new “aesthetic predicates” that enable the audience to have aesthetic experiences and see the artist in the chair “as” something else.

    People who have seen the show: what is it about her performance that makes so many people cry? I’ve never read a clear description of why everyone tears up while looking at her. Is her face sorrowful? Beautiful? Does she make you reflect on yourself? On her? Life in general? Or do different people cry for different reasons?

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