Paperback Publish Date: November 27, 2018
“Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.” — Stella Adler
Our hero, Arky Levin, has reached a creative dead end. An unexpected separation from his wife was meant to leave him with the space he needs to work composing film scores, but it has provided none of the peace of mind he needs to create. Guilty and restless, almost by chance he stumbles upon an art exhibit that will change his life.
Based on a real piece of performance art that took place in 2010, the installation that the fictional Arky Levin discovers is inexplicably powerful. Visitors to the Museum of Modern Art sit across a table from the performance artist Marina Abramović, for as short or long a period of time as they choose. Although some go in skeptical, almost all leave moved. And the participants are not the only ones to find themselves changed by this unusual experience: Arky finds himself returning daily to watch others with Abramović. As the performance unfolds over the course of 75 days, so too does Arky. As he bonds with other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.
This is a book about art, but it is also about success and failure, illness and happiness. It’s about what it means to find connection in a modern world. And most of all, it is about love, with its limitations and its transcendence.
“Art will wake you up. Art will break your heart. There will be glorious days. If you want eternity you must be fearless.” — The Museum of Modern Love
This book was new experience for me. It’s the first book that I’ve read that blends fact and fiction. It has fictional characters alongside with real life characters. It’s literature mixed in with a bit of biography. It has true story elements in novel form. This is a refreshing change from ordinary fiction and I really liked it.
This story is about passion, love, obsession, grief, self-reflection, and of course art. There are so many great quotes that explain art in this book.
Art creates a certain familiarity with loneliness. And possibly with pain. Physical, mental, it doesn’t really matter. It’s all a catalyst.
Pain is the stone that art sharpens itself on time after time.
Everything is about connection. Until you understand what connects you, you have no freedom.
All great art makes us feel something quite indescribable.
Fear leads to doubt. Doubt leads to reason. Reason leads to choice. Choice lead to life. Without fear you don’t have doubt. Without doubt you don’t have reason. Without reason you don’t have choice. Without choice you don’t have life.
Performance artist Marina Abramović is a unique person. I didn’t know about her at all until I read this book. I googled her to find a picture, and ended up watching a video that explains performance art, and her TED talk. The book’s retelling of her life, loves, exhibitions, and art are very accurate to real life. I also found pictures from her 3 month performance of ‘The Artist is Present’. I saw pictures of the her, the room, and the people that sat with her. It was fascinating to read this book after I saw the videos and pictures.
I’m not at all artistic. I usually don’t understand art and performance art is lost on me. But I love hearing the story that each piece tells, and this book gave a great insight into ‘The Artist is Present’. The author also weaves in the story of ordinary people that attended the performance, and the impact that it had on their lives. I’m sure that it mirrors some of the real life experiences of the MOMA visitors.
This is a thought-provoking and unusual book that follows characters through Marina Abramović’s performance and how their lives are affected by it. I have a better understanding of performance art and how it can connect people to themselves and others better. It had me reflecting on life, death, love, grief, passion, motivations, and art.
Also, I enjoyed the author’s technique of blending fact and fiction so much that I’m going to seek out more books like it. Do you have any recommendations for me?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.