Monday, May 24, 2010

The Artist is Present, by Marina Abramovic at the MoMA, Part 1

Forming the Line to Sit with Marina Abramovic

10:46 am – on my ipod: A Face in the Crowd, by the Kinks:

Today was the day I was making my first attempt to sit with Marina Abramovic at the MoMA.Joe Holmes had given me suggestions on what time to get there and where to stand. He had warned me that the line could get aggressive, but I had no idea what was ahead of me.

My day officially started at 7:15 am. I was up early, because I wanted to be at the MoMA around 8:30 am. I left the house at 7:45 am to start my Marina Abramovic adventure. I arrived at the museum at 8:30ish to line-up to sit with Marina. There were already four people ahead of me.Tim, the first person in line, had arrived at the museum at 6 am. The line slowly grew, but remained orderly. Everyone was very friendly. We were given specific details on how the event would happen by a girl that had sat with Marina 27 times. This was to be her 28 times.

At 9:30 am, the far right door was opened and we were allowed into the main lobby area.Through the revolving doors we went. One girl got ahead of me, but we regained our original order once we got into the ticketing line. Well, that wasn’t too bad. Phase 1 was complete.

Once we were moved into the main lobby area, you could feel a shift in the mood of the group.There was tension, excitement, anxiety, and chatter. The next step was going to be moving from the ticketing line to the bottom of the staircase.

Prior to reaching the bottom of the staircase, a.k.a Phase 2, I had become friendly with the four people ahead of me and a few people behind me. We had a verbal agreement that we would remain in the same order once we were upstairs, as we had arrived that morning.

By the time we moved into the ticket line in the main lobby, our group had remained strong. As the time came closed to moving to the bottom of the staircase, the line grew with people and emotion. Two ladies had slinked up to the right of me and were attempting to be the first in line. One was wearing goth make-up and a white ruffley skirt with a braid of black hair and a top hat. My guess is that she was well over 60. Her friend had curly hair and a white linen dress. As soon as they walked up our group could sense that they were going to be a problem.

Immediately they started talking to Tim, who was the first person in line, as to why they should be allowed to cut in front of everyone. They were friends of Marina, they were writing a story about her performance, the lady in the top hat was only going to sit for two minutes. It went on and on. Finally, they stopped talking to Tim and started making snarky comments about the people waiting in line. “Could you image sitting across from that all day?” said the lady friend in the top hat. I wanted to say, “you mean people that have been waiting for hours in a orderly fashion and getting to know one another?” Both ladies talked about the people in line as if we were the lowly “general public.” Finally, they gave up. But their mood had shaken the group and it felt as if it had become “us” against “them.” We continued to wait.

After waiting about 40 minutes, we were getting ready to move again. There were three lines for tickets, but only our line was supposed to move forward towards the bottom of the staircase. That didn’t happen. The first few people in my line moved forward and then all three lines made a mad dash to the stairs. There was no chance for the MoMA employees to check tickets. I was in the front of the line before we moved forward, but got pushed backed after the dash to the staircase. I still had the people I had met in view, so that was good. It was time for Phase 3, the final dash.

A MoMA guard stood on the top of the staircase and gave a speech, saying that they we were all number 1 and that they wanted to keep us safe, so there was to be NO RUNNING up the stairs.Five guards with walkie-talkies were going to escort us all up the stairs. There was a shift in the MoMA employees that indicted that we were moving forward and we were off.

Pushing and shoving, we made went up the stairs. You had to run because people behind you were running and pushing you. One girl that was experienced with the event had lost her shoe in the dash. But she kept on moving. Tyler, the guy running next to me, some how reached down and grabbed her shoe.

Before I knew it, the official line to sit with Marina had formed and I was nowhere near the front of the line. Originally, I was fifth in line, but now I was probably 25 people back. Tyler, my friend that had flow from Florida just to sit with Marina, was with me. Nope, I wasn’t having that. I had been in line at 8:30 am well before most of the people that were now in front of me.

At the front of the line, I spotted the people I had met earlier that morning. I told Tyler that I was moving forward. As soon as the girl that lost her shoe saw me walk up, she allowed me to take my spot in front of her. I gestured to Tyler to come up to the front of the line and he took his spot behind us. I was now in a much better position to sit with Marina. I was now 11 people from the front instead of behind over 25 people.

So now I’m in line, close to the front and my adrenaline is still going. The first person sits with Marina and leaves. Then the lady in the top hat. She had managed to be second in line. Wow, she was sneakier than I gave her credit for. Next, Joshua, the baker in the top hat with a yellow tie and orange socks. Then a group of students followed by a few stray additions to the line.Then me.

I sit, stand, and watch. Talk some, write, and listen to music. I needed to calm down from the running and pushing this morning before I am ready to sit with Marina. I withdrew from the people talking in line for a while into music and writing to calm myself down. I was getting to feel much better and much calmer. For this exhibit, it does not feel right to me to hold extensive conversations while I wait in line. I am in a difference space. I want to focus on what’s going on and bringing my mood down before I sit with Marina.

I sit and wait for my turn.

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