Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn

Jeanne talks "shock art," Andre Serrano's attempts to save Nao, and Abdi's winning bombs.

on Jun 30, 2010


Seems perversely fitting in this week of "shock art" to apologize for having offended some readers in haste and humor a few blogs back.

This episode must have been difficult to edit, as there were plenty of moments left on the floor. Andre Serrano's most beautiful, generous and memorable line was addressed to Nao. Compassionately he said, "I tried to save you. Sometimes we artists are misunderstood." While moved by this gentle giant, we could not spare her. Knowing that she was in a hole, how could she wing it? She might have saved herself by revisiting and re-enacting an earlier performance from her repertoire. While quick-witted and in character, we learned very little about her through her work. I expected more from her than a get-up...

...And so, the best costume this week goes to China in her hoop skirt! She looked like Coppélia by way of Laurie Simmons. I wanted to cut her out and play paper dolls.

On performance art - just learned that 70 people (among the thousand) who sat across from Marina Abramović at the MoMA threw themselves a 'reunion' party. The idea that this experience bonded a group of strangers is oddly compelling. The sitters could not leave the energy at the MoMA, they had to go into group therapy. Beautiful.

Where Nao's performance was unfocused, Abdi was fully absorbed in his practice. And though it was not included in the episode, Abdi's shrunken heads were meant to be handled! I picked up two of them. Each had a different element on the interior - one hard, the other soft, gummy and frankly grotesque to the touch. They carried their weight of the impending violence. On their necks, he had painted a yellow cross, the maker's mark. It brought to mind the Unabomber's own initials carved into his homemade bombs. Such subtle details set this work apart from the others.