A year ago, the contemporary artist Marina Abramovic held a show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, at which patrons waited in line for a very, very long time just to meet her. The excitement of that encounter is now chronicled in a recently launched free-to-play online game.
OK, that means “flash game,” but still The Artist is Present is right up there with “Don’t Shit Your Pants” for at-least-I-gotta-try-it-once absurdity. It’s based on a 2010 performance art exhibit of the same name (The Artist is Present, that is, not Don’t Shit Your Pants) in which Abramovic sat, silent and still, for a collective 736 hours while patrons sat across a table from her staring into her eyes. That’s really it. As participants could stare for as long as they want, it resulted in some unbelievable loading times.
That’s a joke, son. The Artist is Present, by Pippin Barr, is an honest attempt to deliver that experience in a virtual setting, even if the campy 8-bit visuals and graphical-adventure quality suggests it’s all a joke.
“I didn’t do it to make a statement, or to be provocative or challenging at all. I really admire Abramović and I wanted to make the experience as authentic as possible.” Barr, a video game researcher and author of the upcoming How to Play a Video Game, told Slate.
Barr’s the virtual MoMA is not open unless the real MoMA is open — that means you can’t play it before 10.30am or after 5.30pm (EDT), or on Tuesdays, or at Christmas. Well, you can play, but your character will be told the museum is closed when he (I guess that’s a he) approaches the front door.
Once inside you’ll walk past two galleries with 8-bit renderings of famous paintings, then commence to waiting in line. Barr swears it is possible to reach the front of the line, saying it took him five hours to do so on Thursday. Once you do, [SPOILER ALERT]you get to stare into Marina’s eyes for as long as you wish.
The Artist is Present [Pippin Barr via Slate]