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nicolas vass nicovass at gmail.com
Sat Nov 12 10:44:34 CET 2011

Yvonne Rainer, Douglas Crimp and Taisha Paggett Blast Marina Abramović and

Rainer received the following letter from someone who attended the Abramović
a work to be performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles’
gala <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_4ouW2Rt_E>:

*So, I spent an hour today at the Abromovic [sic] audition at MOCA. The
deal is that the artists/dancers she will hire will spend 3(!) hours under
the dining tables of the donor gala with their heads protruding from the
tables. They will be sitting on lazy susans under the table and slowly
rotating and making eye contact with the donors/diners. Of course we were
warned that we will not be able to leave to pee, etc. That the diners may
try to feed us, give us drinks, fondle us under the table, etc but will be
warned not to. Whatever happens, we are to remain in performance mode and
unaffected. What the fuck?! And the chosen performers are expected to be
there all day friday and saturday. The hours probably total 15 or more and
the pay is $150 (plus a MOCA one year membership!!!). I am utterly
appalled. This should be illegal. There is another audition for another
role where the performers lie naked on tables with fake skeletons on them.
Since I cannot stomach being a turning, severed head while people get drunk
in front of me, I am seriously considering taking a naked role and
performing an intervention at the gala celebration where I use my body as a
surface to communicate the fact that I worked x number of hours for $150. I
swear I need to do something…to speak for my community of artists who are
being taken advantage of by major museums. sick shit.  God, we need a

This is Rainer’s response, written to the museum’s director [update: Abramović
 and Deitch responds<http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2011/11/yvonne-rainer-protests-marina-abramovic-plans-for-saturday-moca-gala.html>

*November 9, 2011*

*To Jeffrey Deitch:*

*I am writing to protest the “entertainment” about to be provided by Marina
Abramovic at the upcoming donor gala at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It
has come to my attention that a number of young people will be ensconced
under the diners’ tables on lazy Susans and also be required to display
their nude bodies under fake skeletons.  *

*This description is reminiscent of “Salo,” Pasolini’s controversial film
of 1975 that dealt with sadism and sexual abuse of a group of adolescents
at the hands of a bunch of post-war fascists. Reluctant as I am to dignify
Abramovic by mentioning Pasolini in the same breath, the latter at least
had a socially credible justification tied to the cause of anti-fascism.
Abramovic and MOCA have no such credibility, only a flimsy personal
rationale about eye contact. Subjecting her performers to public
humiliation at the hands of a bunch of frolicking donors is yet another
example of the Museum’s callousness and greed and Ms Abramovic’s
obliviousness to differences in context and some of the implications of
transposing her own powerful performances to the bodies of others. An
exhibition is one thing — this is not a critique of Abramovic’s work in
general — but titillation for wealthy donor/diners as a means of raising
money is another.*

*Ms Abramovic is so wedded to her original vision that she – and by
extension, the Museum director and curators — doesn’t see the egregious
associations for the performers, who, though willing, will be exploited
nonetheless. Their desperate voluntarism says something about the generally
exploitative conditions of the art world such that people are willing to
become decorative table ornaments installed by a celebrity artist in the
hopes of somehow breaking into the show biz themselves. And at sub-minimal
wages for the performers, the event is economic exploitation as well,
verging on criminality.”*

*This grotesque spectacle promises to be truly embarrassing. We the
undersigned wish to express our dismay that an institution that we have
supported can stoop to such degrading methods of fund raising. Can other
institutions be far behind? Must we re-name MOCA “MODFR” or the Museum of
Degenerate Fund Raising?*


*Yvonne Rainer*

*Douglas Crimp*

*taisha paggett*

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