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The Museum of Modern Love
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August 2019: 21st Century > The Museum of Modern Love - Rose - 5 stars

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message 1: by Jgrace (last edited Sep 02, 2019 10:34AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jgrace | 2709 comments The Museum of Modern Love : a novel inspired by Marina Abramovic - Rose
5 stars

I knew very little about Marina Abramovic before I read this book. What little I knew, I didn’t like. The question of ‘But is it art?’ was less important to me than, ‘Is it physically and mentally healthy?’ And, there are more questions. Do artists have a responsibility to their audience if their work might do harm? If I’d ever thought about Abramovic, that is what I would have been thinking.

This book is concerned with possibly her most famous piece of performance art, the seventy-five days of The Artist is Present at MOMA in 2010. Abramovic sat, unmoving, in the Atrium of the New York City museum while over fifteen hundred people lined up to sit across from her to look into her eyes. More than 850,000 people observed from the sidelines. It was a heavily documented phenomenon.

The substance of this book is mostly about fictional characters who are influenced by the performance. Abramovic and several other real people are also treated as characters. Rose provided the art history background that leaves me much better informed about Abramovic and her work, but mostly the book is about the take-away of those who observed The Artist is Present.

“He was not my first musician, Arky Levin”

That’s a terrific first line. I was hooked. The omniscient narrator is never completely identified. I identified the voice as one of the creative muses. The perspective of this book changes from time to time; including the perspective of Danica Abramovic, Marina’s ghostly mother. But, mostly the story follows the composer, Arky Levin. Levin is at a crossroads professionally and in emotional crisis personally. He becomes obsessed with Abramovic, visiting the performance daily in what seems to be avoidance of his professional obligations and his personal trauma. It isn’t avoidance. It’s meditation and revelation.

The book continues through the 75 days, following Arky’s progress and dipping into the lives of other participants and observers. It delves into art history, explores the creative process, and prods at the philosophy and meaning of art. It was fascinating. It left me thinking new thoughts.

That’s good art.

message 2: by NancyJ (last edited Sep 02, 2019 10:52AM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 4887 comments Wow, that's fascinating. Great review! I can imagine that feeling of confusion and wonder, along with that little heartache that I often get from art and literature. I'm often surprised by the things that really touch me.

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