Yesterday I went to London to finally see a few of the MUST-SEE shows. The shows I strongly suggest you go and see if you are about London would be British Folk Art at Tate Britain, The Human Factor at Hayward Gallery, Maleivich and the Matisse ‘Cut-Outs’ exhibitions at Tate Modern, Ed Atkins at Serpentine Sackler and of course, 512 Hours – Marina Abramovic at Serpentine gallery. There are so many fantastic shows going on in the U.K right now, if you’re in Wales this summer I also suggest seeing the ‘Creating a Scene’ exhibition at Oriel Davies gallery, in Newtown, Powys.
After experiencing the 512 Hours by Marina Abramovic at Serpentine, I couldn’t quite speak. I saw Marina there, and I can’t explain how much of a huge fan of her work I am! (as with anyone else) but wasn’t in the slightest star-struck, to my surprise. I was fully immersed in this hypnotic performance. Every single spectator was the performer. I have to say, I’ve never felt anything like it. It was a collective and personal experience all at the same time.
At first I was nervous and didn’t feel involved, I was just looking at people and trying to avoid eye-contact, I was incredibly uncomfortable (like when you go to a party, and at the beginning you feel like running away?). As you walk in, there is a podium with people standing on it, with people sitting on chairs surrounding. Everyone is wearing headphones, including yourself. I assumed these were performers and we were to watch them. But they weren’t doing anything, just standing there and closing their eyes, as if nobody was watching… as if they were under a hypnosis. In fact the majority of the room was like this. The next room was full of people walking slowly, like zombies… but they were holding hands. It was visually quite beautiful, actually. The third room was full of beds, where people were sleeping, with their headphones. It was a surreal experience to see the general public behave in this way.
Then a woman came up to me, held my hand and led me to the podium. She was smiling and told me to close my eyes. This was difficult at first, but the longer I stood there the calmer I got. It was comforting holding her hand, and it was easier to keep my eyes shut. My head started to clear out a bit and I realised I’ve never felt this calm in front of such a large crowd of people, especially standing on a podium. It was like a mini-triumph!
I could go on for hours talking about my experience, but all in all I can’t even explain to you in words how it felt. Like taking acid. You can’t understand until you try.
After seeing a few more shows, I ended the day in the Tate Modern with the beautiful Matisse. It was such a beautiful day! (Below: Matisse – Acrobats, Spring-Summer. 1952)