Phaidon found itself at the centre of a lively and occasionally controversial discussion at MoMA on Friday when our Commissioning Editor for Contemporary Art, Craig Garrett, pulled together a panel comprising eight of the most important curators in the world today: Bob Nickas, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Okwui Enwezor, Connie Butler, Suzanne Cotter, Massimiliano Gioni, Bice Curiger and Daniel Birnbaum to discuss issues raised in the book Defining Contemporary Art.
Over the next few days we’ll be bringing you a series of videos from the evening. We kick off that series today with a lively address from New York-based independent curator Bob Nickas, who took Marina Abramovic to task over Seven Easy Pieces, her 2005 Guggenheim reenactments of historic performance works by artists such as Joseph Beuys, Vito Acconci and Bruce Nauman.
Nickas accused Abramovic of capitalising on other artists’ originality to further her own Performance - with a capital “P” - empire. “We are in a perpetual ‘post’ time,” he said. “Revivals are intimately tied to box office, to making money, and there is no easier way to find an audience than when they are, in a sense, already assembled.”
Keen-eyed viewers might notice a black-and-white picture of a lone man at sea projected onto the screen behind Nickas as he says: “Perhaps if Marina Abramovic had really wanted to make a statement, she might have re-performed the final work of Bas Jan Ader: In Search of the Miraculous.” Dutch artist Ader disappeared somewhere between Cape Cod and Ireland while performing this work in 1975. His body has never been found.