Home Performing Arts  Amir Baradaran’s and Marina Abramovic: A Conversation, MOMA 2010

 Amir Baradaran’s and Marina Abramovic: A Conversation, MOMA 2010


Poetic Quarrel was the name of his last painting series, engaged this contrast of wave- motion to still- shore. Wild sweeps of the brush met by dense, epicenters—solid in hue or scribbles and organic materials woven into core muscles—Baradaran played eloquently with bursts of color and explosive dynamite. Performance was relatively new terrain and may explain why he was so reluctant to abandon the joys that movement created for a silent conversation.

Abramovic often refers to her own Serbian Yugoslavian-Balkan origins, so Baradaran playfully seized control of the common variable. Abramovic—the hedonistic shock artist at large—was being mimicked, propositioned and provoked by a boy half her age. Intractably talented and courageous, Baradaran effectively disrupted Abramovic’s tranquility in the most unpredictable way; perhaps this shock was exactly what she wanted.

Transmuting with her very own corpse the rhythms triggered by starvation, graphic violence and disturbing sex acts, Abramovic has been testing the limits of the human body, endurance—since the 1970’s; now it was Baradaran’s turn to test her.

III: Baradaran entered a trance this act. Rocking, back and forth in his chair, he begins to repetitively hymn an Arabic proverb in Arabic: “He is beauty and he loves beauty.” Discretely invoking the title of her 1975 piece “Art is Beautiful Artist must be Beautiful,” Baradaran purposefully abstains from translating his words into English. Whether he concealed the blatant reference out of resentment—to retain a sense of the exotic and mysterious—or if he just forgot—we’ll never know.

Abramovic didn’t ask what it meant nor did she even break her silence to commend Baradaran’s efforts; I’m sure this invited any bubbling frustrations to appear. Well-versed in the woman’s passions, old works and motives, Baradaran schematically devised a theatric to simultaneously provoke and entertain; to engage and challenge.

By the end, he walked away only to leave his wallet and Abramovic hovering over in a bewildering sea of sniffles; he was the wave that swept the mute, nestled shore named Marina. He entered her conscience, deeply with gratitude, love and the hopes that Abramovic realize that her example gave him the strength to perform that day.

IV: This act Baradaran was forced conduct outdoors. Why? Because  MOMA kicked him out. Equipped with table and chair both like Abramovic’s, Baradaran embarked on a much heavier trance version of Act 3. He was only rocking, but swaying- his motions wilder than ever. This time he was on the other side of the glass door away from his muse; mentor—from the legion that applied structure to his laments.

“The Artist is Present” showcased Abramovic’s endurance. Remarkably meditative, focused and physically detached, the Balkan artist’s experiment examines YOU, too. Going up to meet with her was an intimidating feat in a room filled with cameras, spectators and gossip—but Amir did it!

Smartly violating the museum parameters, Baradaran’s revolutionized sitting with another with such beauty and sensibility that the audience got large, quickly. He’d even got Ms. Invincible, Marina to nod and laugh, inspired until dark and perpetually intrigued by the absurdity of art, humans and youth.



  1. The videos at http://amirbaradaran.com are great, but it must have been a special treat to have been one of the museum audience at MOMA when this artistic intervention happened. Perhaps the real art was going on in the corner as the confused security guards were squirming and not knowing what to do. After all, modern performance art is so unpredictable. It must have been hard for the audience to determine what was and wasn’t part of the “real” exhibit.

  2. I love it. MoMA seems to be becoming overly commercialized- no one can justify that Tim Burton exhibit to me except as an exercise in bringing in more bodies. It’s about time that someone did something really daring and created ‘unexpected’ art within the museum.

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