I don’t remember much of what I learned in elementary school, but I do remember my first exposure to still-life paintings and imitating one of Paul Cézanne’s many portraits of fruit in an “art appreciation” class. At the time, I didn’t really know why Cezanne’s work was interesting, per se. I had no awareness of Art History as a cultural thing and, instead, appreciated the work as it stood on its own. Now, having studied the backgrounds of a number of artists, I’ve learned that a lot of their works are only interesting insofar as they violate certain culturally and temporally engrained conventions and expectations, or only really mean anything with respect to the contexts in which they are created.
Marina Abramovic’s performance art transcends context. The ways in which she pushes the boundaries of bodily form and functionality are beautiful and strange in a way that most any living, breathing person could appreciate—that is, a person from any time period.
Abramovic came to Hamilton earlier this year to talk about her medium of choice. She didn’t perform, but she was very funny.