More than just a simple transcript of a museum show, the documentary MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ: THE ARTIST IS PRESENT is its own, emotionally-charged experience. Keyed off the controversial performance artist’s 2010 retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the film is one part eye-opening exploration of the woman who tends to push the boundaries of physical endurance in her pieces, and one part startling observation of the main piece of her MoMA exhibit: A bare gallery with two chairs, offering the visitors the opportunity to sit across from the silent, expressionless artist for a few seconds as she looks back. So easy to sum up, and so simple in execution. But as director Matthew Aker’s cameras document, also so physically taxing for Abramović and, startlingly, so profound an experience for those who sit opposite her. It’s the rare case where a film starts as an observation the creation of art and eventually becomes a profound tale of people transformed by the work.

Click on the player to hear my interview with Akers.

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