The Other Artist is Present: Amir Baradaran at MoMA

Each act was laden with dance, song and strong cultural references that provoked, challenged and entertained the ‘other artist,’ museum attendees and cameras.

poster for Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović "The Artist Is Present"

at The Museum of Modern Art
in the Midtown area
This event has ended - (2010-03-14 - 2010-05-31)

In In the News Main Article 3 Reviews by Farrah Sarafa 2010-04-10 print

Baradaran and Abramovic face to face at MoMA
Amir Baradaran revolutionized ‘sitting’ with “The Other Artist is Present,” a Marina Abramovic performance exhibition featuring presently, at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). 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, and here invites patrons to sit with her, in video-recorded silence.
Amir Baradaran,'Frantic Harmony 14'(2010) Mixed Media on Canvas
Well-versed in the woman’s passions, old works and motives, Baradaran schematically devised a theatric staged in four parts: Act I- Bodies & Wedding; Act II- Behind the Canvas; Act III- Other Trance; Act IV- Reflections. Each act was laden with dance, song and strong cultural references that provoked, challenged and entertained the ‘other artist,’ museum attendees and cameras. He showed the world two weeks ago that that becoming the ocean wave that moves courageously unto a standstill shore certainly deepen, enrich and complicate the motives at work: timelessness, authorship and power.

Baradaran poetically quarreled with Abramovic, at his convenience. “Poetic Quarrel” was the name of his last painting series. Dense, solid colored cores disturbed by brisk brush strokes, scribbles and organic material like thread and wire, the Persian silhouettes imitated motion and core: the ocean and its shore. The staged performance was a landscape unto which the truths comprised of dynamic, movement and consciousness tread. It enacted the paintings in a more concrete yet symbolic–personable yet undoubtedly litigious fashion.

Replicating her manner of dress, Baradaran approached Abramovic in the first scene and proposed marriage to her body and to her body of work: “I love you, Marina,” he said. Dressed in red must have tempted the statuesque host to dance, move and talk but as interesting as he was charming, Yugoslavian-Balkan Abramovic remained perfectly still until the second act during which the Iranian-born Canadian resident appeared with a series of three canvases veiling his face.

Silent as he lifted each of the veils to reveal three separate messages, first In/Out—an allusion to borders–Abramovic laughed audibly when he lifted the first to notice the reference an earlier interview, which she humorously admitted to detracting other travelers with the phrase: “I’m a nurse from New Zealand.” After revealing the third message, “non-resident alien”, Baradaran took out an inkpad to fingerprint himself and imitate a security checkpoint detainee.

In the third act entitled Other Trance, Baradaran intoned: “He is beauty and he loves beauty” in Arabic. Rocking, swaying in deep contrast to Abramovic’s motionless poise, she refrained from asking what it was he sung. By the end, he walked away only to leave his wallet and the lady hovering over a sea of perceptible whimpers. He entered her conscience, deeply with gratitude, affection and with hope that Abramovic recognized she inspired him to act and shock this way.
Amir Baradaran displays his fingers
Ousted from the museum after Other Trance, Baradaran did not stop there. In fact he embarked on a more intense trance-chant-rocking sequence. Swaying and singing more wildly from the outside of the glass entrance, people inevitably stared, judged and wondered; but his planned scheme would go on. Away from the structuring legion of attendees and Abramovic’s gaze, it was as though Baradaran were lamenting a loss of love or enduing a sense of purposelessness.

Was he victorious in the end? Yes, certainly; he experimented with parameters, borders and maintained his zealous ardor even after he was deported. He maintained his identity outside and in—through silence, dance and Persian song. Going up to meet with Abramovic was an intimidating feat for all–but Baradaran did it, most resourcefully.

For a precise summary of each act, please visit http://www.amirbaradaran.com/act-i/

Farrah Sarafa

Farrah Sarafa. Farrah Sarafa is a poet, professor of English and Foreign Modern Languages, and writer based in Manhattan. After earning her Master's from Columbia, she began writing and editing and freelance for Blackbook, Green News, Spirituality & Health, Beyond Race, the Village Voice and more. She has travelled around the world, speaks and translates from and into French, Arabic and Italian, and ghostwrote a published novel. » See other writings

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