Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present


Action / Biography / Documentary / History

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 95%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 90%
IMDb Rating 7.9 10 4916


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September 25, 2014 at 03:28 PM



James Franco as Himself
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806.89 MB
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1hr 46 min
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1hr 46 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Thelly Nious 8 / 10

Unbelievably moving documentary.

I absolutely loathe performance art and the pretentiousness that comes with it. If fact, aside from movies and some abstract pieces, I am not all that interested in art. However, it is impossible not to like this film. Abramovic is hypnotic throughout and the film editors do a great job of cutting out virtually all of the annoyances that sometimes plague these types documentaries. I am a simple-minded person who enjoys beer, boxing and cars. I do not know my wines nor am I an avid NY Times reader. But, one thing I am sure of is that you will love this film. Just give it 15 minutes and you will be hooked.

Reviewed by Charles Herold (cherold) 7 / 10

Fairly Interesting

I remember when there were people going to MOMA in droves to sit across from some artist I'd never heard of. I heard people say it was a very moving experience. It sounded nuts to me. So I was curious to see if I could get a sense of what it was all about from this movie.

I suppose I did, a little bit. The movie is made by people who want to be a bit artsy about it all, with jump shots and some shaky camera-work, but it does give you the basics. Marina is a long-time performance artist who specializes in feats of endurance, like running repeatedly into a wall or sitting naked on a bicycle seat for hours. She is very sincere, very determined, and seems to be someone who lives her art. There are scenes of her with her ex-partner/lover in which she is driving and cooking dinner which give you a glimpse into the mundane aspects of life that even those living for their art experience.

Most of the second half of the movie is devoted to her three months sitting staring at people who stare back. You see how physically grueling the experience is, you see how moved many people are, and you say how insane things got, with people camping out all night, desperate to get in early enough to spend some time having a famous artist stare at them.

The movie doesn't really recreate the experience. It's rather glossy at times, with a soundtrack that I'm sure creates a different experience than what I assume was simply the buzz of the crowd and the noise from any video projections nearby.

I'm amazed that some people here said they were moved by this movie. It's an interesting view of a performance artist, offering occasional mild insights from her friends and giving some understanding of her approach.

I'm also surprised that some people expected more of this movie, like a complete investigation of her career, or questions into how performance art fits into the art world. The movie is called The Artist is Present, and it's focused on that show, and that piece, and it's by someone who clearly buys into performance artist (I've always thought this sort of thing was interesting but kooky). It's exactly the sort of documentary I would expect someone who is intrigued by Marina would be inclined to make.

The movie absolutely did not make me wish I'd gone up to MOMA to stare at her, although it makes me feel, just a little, that maybe I should have gone up to see the recreations of her previous pieces and take a quick peek at her face-offs. But it's not something I'm losing sleep over.

Reviewed by Blake Peterson 8 / 10

A Fascinating Inside Look Into the Life of the World's Most Underrated Artist

Marina Abramović isn't generally a name that rolls off your tongue when listing your favorite artists, but after viewing "The Artist Is Present", she may as well be the very first person that comes to mind. When classifying "artists", most point in the direction of Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein — we forget about performance artists, as most of us aren't pretentious enough to consider ourselves a part of the "art" world. Save for Portland hipsters and eclectic New Yorkers, most don't know who the hell Marina Abramović is or why she is so damn interesting. I had never heard of her until a few days ago, when she made national headlines accusing Jay-Z of failing to donate to the Marina Abramović foundation after co-starring in his "Picasso Baby" music video.

"The Artist Is Present" is a fascinating watch for both newcomers and Abramović admirers, giving us an inside look into the process of her 2010 exhibit of the same name while providing a background, or, an introduction, if you will, to her performing art past. Touching on her controversial "Rhythm" series of the 1970s and her artistic and personal relationship with Ulay, the documentary is as educational as it is emotionally satisfying. We can appreciate Abramović's contributions to our culture just as much as we can connect with her as a vulnerable human being doing what they love.

Abramović has made a career out of using her body as means of artistic expression, testing her physical and intellectual limits on a regular basis. She has run into walls (for hours), cut, whipped and mentally disabled herself, exposed her naked body to the world — and yet, these are only a few characteristics of her long career (and vaguely detailed I might add). Abramović's willingness to submit to inescapable pain for the sake of performing is startling. One might initially cast aside her experiments, considering them to be laughable, strange, perhaps even an excuse to commit self-harm. The documentary, though, adds a dimension unseen by most, making her projects all the more admirable.

"The Artist Is Present" has a plentiful number of interviews to add to our reverence, and goes just deep enough into Abramović's past to give us a sort of idea as to why she does what she does. But the most enjoyable aspects of the documentary are not the clinical studies nor the final act, which focuses on the bewildering exhibit. Most gratifying is seeing Abramović behind the scenes, living as a normal woman, with a sense of humor, to boot, who just so happens to have a job most would never dream of. This is a hugely pleasurable documentary, yet I want more. I want to delve into Abramović's unhappy childhood with more gusto, to get an even closer look into the mind-blowing years spent with Ulay. For now, though, this will have to do, and that isn't a bad thing.

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