If you’ve been on the Internet at all in the last three years, you’ve encountered the work of Marina Abramović, who not long ago had the audacity to crown herself “the grandmother of performance art.” Most likely you’ve seen a photo from her virally popular 2010 show at the Museum of Modern Art, The Artist Is Present, in which museumgoers were invited to sit silently opposite her at a table in the gallery.
There’s also a good chance that you find all the hype around Abramović undeserved and slightly absurd. Luckily, you’re not alone, as a scathing new Tumblr reveals. “The Marina Abramović Retirement Fund of America” is “a citizen action group dedicated to stopping Marina Abramović from creating further artworks,” and they’re currently taking PayPal donations.
The site is the work of Scott Indrisek, executive editor at monthly art magazine Modern Painters, who has both an axe to grind and a noble cause behind the curtain: any money received from anti-Abramović readers will go directly to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America. Indrisek explained in a Facebook post that the money reroutes there “in honor of my papa, Peter Indrisek, who would likely be as annoyed of Marina Abramović as I am.”
“What to say about Marina Abramovic?” he told us. “There are few living artists who have more eagerly chugged their own Kool-Aid.”
This is not to understate her influence as a pioneer of performance art. One of my favorite contemporary artists is Ragnar Kjartansson, whose career really wouldn’t exist without the informing shadow of Marina. But whereas Ragnar is hilarious and heartbreaking, Abramovic is the very definition of humorless. And I have a good feeling that Jesus Christ was probably a bit humbler. Jesus also probably wouldn’t have staged an overblown, self-aggrandizing opera during his own lifetime, even if Antony was involved.
As far as the website and M.A.R.F.A. goes—hey, the PayPal donation button actually works! And hey, all donations will, mysteriously, actually be routed to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America, in honor of my late dad, Peter Indrisek. He was a painter, and he fought a real motherfucker of a disease for 7 years, if you want to talk about ‘endurance performances.’
The blog may raise funds for vital research, but make no mistake: it’s also as withering a takedown of Abramović’s art and persona as one could ask for. She is, to paraphrase a similar insult, a bad artist’s idea of a good artist—and the phony quotes posted on the Tumblr bear that out, insofar as it’s not immediately obvious that they’re fake. “I invented nudity. I invented pain. I brought the zombie of art up from its deep grave and made it dance like a little girl. Come to me, let me feel your soft cheeks. You’re welcome,” is something we can well imagine her saying to a class at the School of Visual Arts.
These remarks pale in comparison, however, to the upcoming conceptual projects described. “On December 29, 2013, Marina Abramović plans to eat onions for 36-hours in front of a Chipotle Mexican Grill franchise in a to-be-determined Midwestern city,” one post claims. It truly feels like just a matter of time till an art student attempts to do that for his thesis, no?
Photo by Trish Mayo/Flickr