Description: Amir Baradaran’s The Other Artist is Present is a performance in four acts wherein he honors, questions and ultimately departs from Marina Abramovic’s performance at the Museum of Modern Art NYC, titled The Artist Is Present (March 9th-May 31st). Abramovic has invited the public to participate in her latest performance in which participants engage her in a one-on-one encounter in the museum’s atrium. In a sea of light, seated at a spare wooden table, Abramovic silently engages patrons with only her eyes. Baradaran accepts her invitation as an impassioned fellow artist looking to engage her in a ‘sohbat’ – a Persian term for a conversation with a spiritual (and also corporeal) dimension. Meticulously responding to concepts and imagery developed by Abramovic, he adds his own layers of interpretation to pay homage to a pioneer of performance art. Baradaran’s creative implementation of his own cultural background and interest in ‘hyphenated’ cultural identity inform his performance. Baradaran’s performance speaks to the notions of ‘timelessness,’(dis)continuity and consciousness central to Abramovic’s work while illuminating issues such as authorship and authority.
The Other Artist is Present is staged in the following four acts:
Act 1: Bodies and Wedding
Act 2: Behind the Canvas
Act 3: Other Trance
Act 4: Reflections
As Amir enters the meditative space in a flowing red gown—a close facsimile to Abramovic’s deep blue robe- he adds symmetry to the scene. Out of earshot of the audience, Baradaran expresses his deep and sincere devotion to Abramovic’s artistic legacy: “I love your bodies of work… and I would love to be wedded to this body.... do you accept this marriage, here and now?” He evokes the Shiite provision of ‘temporary marriage:’ a fixed-term, “noncommittal” relationship by which intimacy could be shared for a specific time. His request is met with silence. He then goes on to playfully describe a “national tradition” in which the woman coquettishly hesitates to respond when asked for her hand: “in my culture… they say she is out making rose water…” Baradaran ends his ceremony with a joyous dance- a whiplash shift from dialogue to dance inspired by the sensibility of Abramovic’s ‘tongue and cheek’, This is How We Kill Rats in the Balkans.
Baradaran chooses to symbolically wed the icon in a manner reminiscent of her own work- through the juxtaposition of the solemn and the celebratory.