Sunday, May 30, 2010

SATC & Performance Art: Carrie and Marina, Together Again

While I was reading two recent posts from fellow blogger Brenda and the F Word I realized that two current, vastly different cultural phenomena are cosmically tied to one another. It was one of those quirky “a ha” moments.

The one post is about her own visits to “The Artist Is Present” at MOMA, where Marina Abramovic has been sitting in a chair since March 14, across from one other chair that has been filled by a stream of the public for 7 hours every day the museum has been open. The NY Times has quite a bit of coverage on the piece.

BRENDA: “It isn’t just the stillness, the silence, that’s so startling. It’s the connection these people seem to feel for a woman who doesn’t speak; a woman who gives you nothing but her full, undivided attention for as long as you can take it. (snip) Anyway, I was riveted. Am going back this afternoon with N. to check her out again."

The Artist Is In/2: “That within its stillness, its silence, there is also such intimacy and emotion. The weeping, for instance. There is a series of absolutely remarkable portraits here. Portraits of people silently weeping as they gaze into Abramovic’s eyes. What is it about these eyes that allows men, women, Asians, whites, blacks, the young and the old, to cry in public? That gives them permission to open their hearts like this?"

Brenda’s other post is about seeing Sex and the City 2. Weeping is also involved there, but it is not cathartic.

BRENDA: “As for the concept of a P.R. junket to the Mideast. Oh My God. Help me! Giggling over jokes in the souk like “Wow! It’s Beduoin, bath, and beyond.” Or how bout this? “Ohhh! Look. It’s Lawrence of the the Labia.” They should have been fucking stoned to death. All of them. And believe me, I ain’t no fan of Mideastern men or their andiluvian attitude/behaviour towards women. They should be stoned to death, too. But this was just plain obscene. The WASTE, the atrocious waste.”

Performance Art and the Sex and the City Universe
Fate had it that Marina’s show ends and SATC 2 opens this Memorial Day weekend. And because I have a ridiculous memory for cultural references high and low, I realized that this is not the first time these two different entities have crossed paths.

Marina; Sex and the City homage

In the season 6 episode of Sex and the City called “One,” Carrie goes to an art gallery with Charlotte to see a performance piece where a woman lives on a series of platforms for 16 days.

It is absolutely meant to be Marina’s 2002 piece “The House with the Ocean View” at the Sean Kelly Gallery, when she lived on view on three platforms for twelve days existing only on water, with ladders made with large carving knives baring her way down. Besides the general premise you can see the oak chair is the same, and you can see the name Sean Kelly on the door behind Baryshnikov later in the scene.

The plot point is that Carrie meets the “Russian artist Aleksandr Petrovsky” aka Baryshnikov when he asks her her opinion of the piece. Carrie: “There are depressed women all over the city doing the exact same thing as her and not calling it art. Put a phone up on that platform and it’s just a typical Friday night waiting for some guy to call. Why do you think she has the knife ladders? To keep her from running out for a snack.” You can watch it here.

Did Abramovic give permission to the show to reference her piece like that? Might not be too surprising since TV itself is about the relationship between viewer and creative entity, one of the main themes of her own work. I did not go to the Modern to be present with the artist, but I find great lyricism in the way Brenda and others have written about the piece.

I won’t see SATC 2 in a theater, but I will watch it when it comes to pay-per-view. I had a delayed affection for the first movie: hated it when I first saw it, because it didn’t feel like the tv show, but watching it again on a Saturday morning, I find it really holds together. The New Year’s eve scene when Carrie and Miranda are alone together to the strains of Mari Campbell’s distinctive Auld Lange Syne is very moving and satisfying.

I am sorry to hear that the girls have lost their way. That in trying to give their audiences more of their story they have shredded the fragile relationship between creator and audience, something that Marina is not likely to ever do.