It has been more than a month since Marina Abramovic brought nude women and live rotating heads to the dinner tables of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s annual gala dinner, prompting an angry letter from choreographer Yvonne Rainer and other luminaries, but it remains a subject of fierce debate.
Marina Abramovic made performance art mainstream with her Museum of Modern Art retrospective “The Artist is Present.” If you’ll recall, this was when people lined up for hours in MoMA’s atrium to take a seat across from Ms. Abramovic and stare, a gesture at the artist’s contradictory celebrity and public persona. (Would audiences stand in line to simply stare at Tino Seghal? Or Terence Koh? We think they’d have to work a bit harder.)
“I think we’re going to leave. My friend fainted.”
That was the very first comment The Observer overheard as we headed into the entertainment portion of our program at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s annual gala on Saturday night.
[See photos of the event here.]
Cocktail hour at the gala had been relatively tame—everyone milling about, chatting each other up and giving each other the up-and-down—outfits are important at this event. Dita Von Teese was resplendent in Gaultier haute couture, while Minnie Driver went contemporary in a Douglas Hannant Andy Warhol camouflage number with Pomellato jewelry – yet she was just as va-va-voom as the diminutive burlesque star. Art patron Mandy Einstein cut a lithe figure in black Thierry Mugler and artist Rosson Crow looked like a happy cake topper in light peach vintage Don Loper. Gwen Stefani—sans husband Gavin—was a standout, and perhaps the centerpiece of this precursor to the evening’s big event… which is to say: dinner. To which, at that moment, we were summoned…
Choreographer Yvonne Rainer has written a letter to Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles director Jeffrey Deitch, slamming his museum’s Marina Abramovic-organized gala, which is scheduled to occur tomorrow evening, as a “grotesque spectacle promises to be truly embarrassing.” The letter, which critic Claudia La Rocco has published in full on her blog, is co-signed by choreographer Taisha Paggett and art historian Douglas Crimp.
Update: 2 p.m.: The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Ms. Rainer said last night that she had not decided whether to send the letter, so it is not clear if the circulating letter is a final draft. Ms. Rainer has not been available for comment.
Looking to break into the competitive world of contemporary performance art? Artist Marina Abramovic is seeking “dynamic adult men and women, 5’– 6’ tall, with excellent physical stamina, focus and discipline” to participate in her gala-as-art event at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles on Nov. 12, according to a Facebook page designed to attract applicants.
A truncated version of Marina Abramovic’s “The Artist is Present” exhibition, shown in 2010 at the Museum of Modern Art, traveled to collector Dasha Zhukova’s Garage Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow. Forty-seven Russian artists were trained by Ms. Abramovic to stage live re-enactments of some of the artist’s past works. Ms. Zhukova, if you’ll recall, recently launched The Greatest Magazine in the History of Mankind. It is called Garage. It is not about Garages.
Marina Abramovic has listed her Soho apartment at 70 Grand (at Wooster) on Sotheby’s with an asking price of $3.495 million.