Today is the final day of The Artist is Present at MOMA. Yesterday I went with my friend Frank and arrived just moments before, as it turned out, our friend Jensen was to take his seat before the Artist. It felt like a moment of grace to be able to bear witness to him as he was received and totally seen, completely taken in, by Marina Abramovic in the performance piece that seemed to me to be more an encounter with holiness.
The charged square space filled with the emptiness of presence gave it a sense of the Holy of Holies. In her white dress, Abramovic seemed like the Shekhina herself. Or Quan Yin, Kannon, Avalokiteshvara, Bodhisattva of Compassion, bearing all the pain and heart of all those who entered her space.
And all this before I went upstairs to discover her other pieces. From the Memento Mori of the model below the skeleton, to passing between the Scylla and Charybdis of the two models in the doorway, to the crucifixion without nails that is Luminosity, it was an experience of the museum as a cathedral, a meditation space to participate in, rather than simply consume.
The press and discussions that I had heard all dwelled on the titillation of the event. Or perhaps I just did not bother to read deeper into the articles I saw. Because there have been few shows more powerful. And I am only sorry today is the last day, and that I didn't take advantage of the time earlier to enter that charged space myself and sit before the artist.
My friend Jensen, in the photo above, entered the space at 2:40 on Sunday afternoon. He had joined to line to do this at 1:30am the night before. He was in that seat for less than 15 minutes, but watching him go through all the emotions that arose it was clear each second there was experienced with the complete naked intimacy.
And all I can think of are the words of the Kadosh prayer:
Holy. Holy. Holy. All of creation is filled with the glory and presence of the Divine. (And in this case, the Divine Feminine)