The Mysterious location of Marina Abramovic’s Pee

by Art Fag City on May 10, 2010 · 35 comments Newswire

POST BY PADDY JOHNSON
marina abramovic, art fag city, the artist is present
Marina Abramovic, The Artist is Present at MoMA

Speculation about how performance artist Marina Abramovic pees has been growing steadily over the weekend. Permanently seated on the second floor of the MoMA, her performance “The Artist is Present” invites one sitter at a time to stare at her. She never leaves her chair.

Artnet’s twitter points to artists Mira Schor and William Powhida, both of whom have suggested the existence of a catheter within the dress. (Update: Commentor Jesse P. Martin points readers to a video which shows a hole in the chair for her pee). Fair enough, but if the pee’s being collected Art Fag City wants to know what’s being done with it. After all, as a performance artifact, the urine would likely need to be insured and could at some point conceivably be sold.

As it happens, we speculated similarly when discussing Brian Eno’s impromptu performance at MoMA in 1995 involving Duchamp’s insured toilet. After a discussion at the museum which discuss the insurance of the piece for $30,000, Eno claimed the administration corrupted the artist’s intention for the piece to live as random hardware, and pissed in it as an act “re-commode-ification”. But as a star himself, his efforts were probably in vein.  The toilet is now undoubtedly worth more because of his piss. The act also suggests the existence of a famous artist pee archive some where in the museum. Now there’s an exhibition drawn from MoMA’s collection I want to see!

  • http://www.jessepatrickmartin.com Jesse P. Martin

    Jeffrey Allen Price posted this video (via MoMA’s Abramovic site) to Mira’s Facebook posts about the tinkle-tweets: http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/the-artist-is-present

    You can see a clear hole in Abramovic’s chair during the first minute or so of the video… a hole for peeing.

    What they’re DOING with the pee is another matter (maybe Abramovic & Serrano will collaborate to make some limited-editions?).

  • http://www.jessepatrickmartin.com Jesse P. Martin

    Jeffrey Allen Price posted this video (via MoMA’s Abramovic site) to Mira’s Facebook posts about the tinkle-tweets: http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/the-artist-is-present

    You can see a clear hole in Abramovic’s chair during the first minute or so of the video… a hole for peeing.

    What they’re DOING with the pee is another matter (maybe Abramovic & Serrano will collaborate to make some limited-editions?).

  • http://ww.cynephile.com cynthia lugo

    A MoMA employee informed me that she is indeed wearing a catheter and her assistant empties the bag each night. I don’t know if it’s being preserved for posterity.

  • http://ww.cynephile.com cynthia lugo

    A MoMA employee informed me that she is indeed wearing a catheter and her assistant empties the bag each night. I don’t know if it’s being preserved for posterity.

  • http://www.lynnxe.com Lauri Lynnxe Murphy

    I’m almost more interested in whether or not her face changes when she pees. Does the person sitting across from her have any indication at all that she’s peeing at the moment? Does she hold it until visitors switch? When you think about it, how many of us have ever had the experience of staring into someone’s eyes while we pee?

  • http://www.lynnxe.com Lauri Lynnxe Murphy

    I’m almost more interested in whether or not her face changes when she pees. Does the person sitting across from her have any indication at all that she’s peeing at the moment? Does she hold it until visitors switch? When you think about it, how many of us have ever had the experience of staring into someone’s eyes while we pee?

  • http://www.talkinggrid.com Talkinggrid

    The idea that our friend Serrano might collaborate with Abramovic on a piss-piece is very refreshing. They might bottle a new cocktail to serve at remarkable art openings.

  • http://www.talkinggrid.com Talkinggrid

    The idea that our friend Serrano might collaborate with Abramovic on a piss-piece is very refreshing. They might bottle a new cocktail to serve at remarkable art openings.

  • http://www.christopheralbert.com Christopher Albert

    I can imagine she assumes that dreamy cross eyed look when she’s relieving herself, though I haven’t seen note of that yet…

  • http://www.christopheralbert.com Christopher Albert

    I can imagine she assumes that dreamy cross eyed look when she’s relieving herself, though I haven’t seen note of that yet…

  • Jill

    Great find Paddy! So now, what on earth is the point of this work, besides the artist offering herself as a celebrity who stares at those who would like to stare back? And what about those participants who do not have the option that she has? Totally pointless in my view.

  • Jill

    Great find Paddy! So now, what on earth is the point of this work, besides the artist offering herself as a celebrity who stares at those who would like to stare back? And what about those participants who do not have the option that she has? Totally pointless in my view.

  • Sean

    HA!

    Slow news day, Paddy? Spelunking to new depths.

    It *is* conceivable that she is like a yogi and slows her metabolism so as not to pass water. She doesn’t drink anything either, right?

    It would be so great if one day she pulls a turkey club sandwich out from beneath her big red dress and eats it.

    “Munch munch–be right wit’ you–have a seat–mmph..”

  • Sean

    HA!

    Slow news day, Paddy? Spelunking to new depths.

    It *is* conceivable that she is like a yogi and slows her metabolism so as not to pass water. She doesn’t drink anything either, right?

    It would be so great if one day she pulls a turkey club sandwich out from beneath her big red dress and eats it.

    “Munch munch–be right wit’ you–have a seat–mmph..”

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    @sean Nobody needs to receive complaints from commentors about how their posts aren’t interesting to said commentors. If you think this post is boring you can skip it. I write enough here to know that everything I publish isn’t going to be of interest to *everyone*; the only guarantee I offer it will be of interest to me. When I start posting stuff that doesn’t make that base requirement you can complain, but until then find something else to opine on.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    @sean Nobody needs to receive complaints from commentors about how their posts aren’t interesting to said commentors. If you think this post is boring you can skip it. I write enough here to know that everything I publish isn’t going to be of interest to *everyone*; the only guarantee I offer it will be of interest to me. When I start posting stuff that doesn’t make that base requirement you can complain, but until then find something else to opine on.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    From a reader @moma who wishes to remain anonymous:

    Originally, [Marina] was planning on using a bed pan embedded in the chair for her……There was a hole in the in the chair and the cushion and, as I understand it, there was a hole or opening in her gown.

    I believe that shortly after the performance began, this “hole” system stopped being used. I saw her chair early on when it was off view, and I had heard from a couple of folks who had an encounter with the chair (already emptied), that the odor from it was choking and our guess was that the odor precipitated a tactical change on that front. I don’t know what she is doing now, although there’s been conjecture that she’s wearing a diaper of some sort, or she’s simply holding it….self discipline is her deal after all. It is very possible that she is using a catheter. I have not heard of anything of an unusual nature being done with her urine. That detail rests outside of the muesum’s purview; I’m sure her own people were handling it.

    In an interview on Studio 360 (4/2/10) she refers to her preparations, and peeing in the chair. The interview also includes one of the performers talking about stuffing his junk under himself, out of view while perched on the bicycle seat with the aim of creating a hermaphroditic visual. There was talk that he had a special seat made with a compartment for said package, but that was not confirmed. It just makes me wonder how painful it is to have your penis fall asleep.

    An item of which I’m dubious, is the report that a male performer was dismissed for having an erection. I’m not well connected, but I haven’t heard inside the museum that has confirmed this story. I’m inclined to think that it might be part of the scandal (promotional campaign) that grew from reports of groping made it around the mainstream news outlets.

    I understand there was a non affilated performer that had proposed marriage to Marina while sitting across from her. I think he returned twice more, even after being banned from the exhibit to conduct his own reactive performances.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    From a reader @moma who wishes to remain anonymous:

    Originally, [Marina] was planning on using a bed pan embedded in the chair for her……There was a hole in the in the chair and the cushion and, as I understand it, there was a hole or opening in her gown.

    I believe that shortly after the performance began, this “hole” system stopped being used. I saw her chair early on when it was off view, and I had heard from a couple of folks who had an encounter with the chair (already emptied), that the odor from it was choking and our guess was that the odor precipitated a tactical change on that front. I don’t know what she is doing now, although there’s been conjecture that she’s wearing a diaper of some sort, or she’s simply holding it….self discipline is her deal after all. It is very possible that she is using a catheter. I have not heard of anything of an unusual nature being done with her urine. That detail rests outside of the muesum’s purview; I’m sure her own people were handling it.

    In an interview on Studio 360 (4/2/10) she refers to her preparations, and peeing in the chair. The interview also includes one of the performers talking about stuffing his junk under himself, out of view while perched on the bicycle seat with the aim of creating a hermaphroditic visual. There was talk that he had a special seat made with a compartment for said package, but that was not confirmed. It just makes me wonder how painful it is to have your penis fall asleep.

    An item of which I’m dubious, is the report that a male performer was dismissed for having an erection. I’m not well connected, but I haven’t heard inside the museum that has confirmed this story. I’m inclined to think that it might be part of the scandal (promotional campaign) that grew from reports of groping made it around the mainstream news outlets.

    I understand there was a non affilated performer that had proposed marriage to Marina while sitting across from her. I think he returned twice more, even after being banned from the exhibit to conduct his own reactive performances.

  • http://www.thefanzine.com Casey

    What about poop? My guess is if anyone is buying her pee, they are prob of the age were they are likely already wearing catheters themselves.

  • http://www.thefanzine.com Casey

    What about poop? My guess is if anyone is buying her pee, they are prob of the age were they are likely already wearing catheters themselves.

  • http://www.meadmclean.com Mead McLean

    I do find the logistics of this quite fascinating. I was there on day 27, I believe, and of the many things that occurred to me while waiting in line, the two health related ones were 1) urine, and 2) pressure sores.

    I would say that it’s pretty hardcore and painful to have a catheter put in every day, but it would make the most sense smell-wise. I’m of the opinion that she uses a variety of methods. One day catheter, one day diaper, one day bedpan, etc. This would reduce the pain of having a catheter inserted every day (I’d assume without pain meds, even). Even with the various possibilities, the lack of water must be fairly harmful, especially to her kidneys.

    The pressure sore thing has to be a concern, too. You can’t sit for that many hours without getting these sores. Hopefully she treats them at night. I wonder how she’s holding up.

    On a side note, the main thing I was thinking about in line was, “Do the people who sit a long time consider their time-taking a selfish action, or do they simply lose all time-sense?” I was wondering if anyone else had an opinion on this.

  • http://www.meadmclean.com Mead McLean

    I do find the logistics of this quite fascinating. I was there on day 27, I believe, and of the many things that occurred to me while waiting in line, the two health related ones were 1) urine, and 2) pressure sores.

    I would say that it’s pretty hardcore and painful to have a catheter put in every day, but it would make the most sense smell-wise. I’m of the opinion that she uses a variety of methods. One day catheter, one day diaper, one day bedpan, etc. This would reduce the pain of having a catheter inserted every day (I’d assume without pain meds, even). Even with the various possibilities, the lack of water must be fairly harmful, especially to her kidneys.

    The pressure sore thing has to be a concern, too. You can’t sit for that many hours without getting these sores. Hopefully she treats them at night. I wonder how she’s holding up.

    On a side note, the main thing I was thinking about in line was, “Do the people who sit a long time consider their time-taking a selfish action, or do they simply lose all time-sense?” I was wondering if anyone else had an opinion on this.

  • http://www.meadmclean.com Mead McLean

    I do find the logistics of this quite fascinating. I was there on day 27, I believe, and of the many things that occurred to me while waiting in line, the two health related ones were 1) urine, and 2) pressure sores.

    I would say that it’s pretty hardcore and painful to have a catheter put in every day, but it would make the most sense smell-wise. I’m of the opinion that she uses a variety of methods. One day catheter, one day diaper, one day bedpan, etc. This would reduce the pain of having a catheter inserted every day (I’d assume without pain meds, even). Even with the various possibilities, the lack of water must be fairly harmful, especially to her kidneys.

    The pressure sore thing has to be a concern, too. You can’t sit for that many hours without getting these sores. Hopefully she treats them at night. I wonder how she’s holding up.

    On a side note, the main thing I was thinking about in line was, “Do the people who sit a long time consider their time-taking a selfish action, or do they simply lose all time-sense?” I was wondering if anyone else had an opinion on this.

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  • http://www.WhiteVinylSpace.com Andy WhoreWall

    Hasn’t anyone ever heard of Depends? I mean, really….

  • http://www.WhiteVinylSpace.com Andy WhoreWall

    Hasn’t anyone ever heard of Depends? I mean, really….

  • http://www.WhiteVinylSpace.com Andy WhoreWall

    Hasn’t anyone ever heard of Depends? I mean, really….

  • http://www.WhiteVinylSpace.com Andy WhoreWall

    Hasn’t anyone ever heard of Depends? I mean, really….

  • http://www.lorenmunk.com James Kalm

    To set the record straight: I have been involved in a long term performance piece that began in 1973 at the Louver and continues to this day. It involves urinating at the greatest museums in the world including the Neue Nationalgaleri Berlin, the Pompidou Center Paris, the Prado in Madrid, the Haus der Kunst Munich with multiple episodes here in New York at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the New Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of art. It’s gratifying to see that Marina Abramovik is continued this performance legacy. After three cups of coffee this morning, I’m inspired to yet another “performance”. Look for more presentations of this series at local museums, and in the streets and alleys of Brooklyn.

  • http://www.lorenmunk.com James Kalm

    To set the record straight: I have been involved in a long term performance piece that began in 1973 at the Louver and continues to this day. It involves urinating at the greatest museums in the world including the Neue Nationalgaleri Berlin, the Pompidou Center Paris, the Prado in Madrid, the Haus der Kunst Munich with multiple episodes here in New York at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the New Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of art. It’s gratifying to see that Marina Abramovik is continued this performance legacy. After three cups of coffee this morning, I’m inspired to yet another “performance”. Look for more presentations of this series at local museums, and in the streets and alleys of Brooklyn.

  • http://www.lorenmunk.com James Kalm

    To set the record straight: I have been involved in a long term performance piece that began in 1973 at the Louver and continues to this day. It involves urinating at the greatest museums in the world including the Neue Nationalgaleri Berlin, the Pompidou Center Paris, the Prado in Madrid, the Haus der Kunst Munich with multiple episodes here in New York at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the New Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of art. It’s gratifying to see that Marina Abramovik is continued this performance legacy. After three cups of coffee this morning, I’m inspired to yet another “performance”. Look for more presentations of this series at local museums, and in the streets and alleys of Brooklyn.

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    It’s of course puerile to focus on the pee mystery, but given how Abramović’s work is SO staged, pared-down, specific, and otherwise deliberate in relation to all of its components (has Beckett & “Waiting for Godot” been discussed in terms of this and her other performances?), it begins to feel all the more important TO consider the pee.

    Not only do we have a 3-month nod to Duchamp, but we’ve also got a pretty weighty picture (however theatrical) of the human/modern condition: a bunch of people (myself included) who spend a great deal of time sitting (probably in a chair, maybe before a table), staring into a constantly-cycling wave of images (in her case, people). I haven’t quite worked the pee-thing into this, but past all the humor, I can’t help but think of the fact that most of us will, some day, be dealing with the embarrassing, mundane, and entirely tragic reality of needing absurd apparatuses (catheters, bedpans, diapers) to collect our pee while regiments of hopefully-kindly, mostly-strangers (nurses, orderlies) provide our only source of human interaction.

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    It’s of course puerile to focus on the pee mystery, but given how Abramović’s work is SO staged, pared-down, specific, and otherwise deliberate in relation to all of its components (has Beckett & “Waiting for Godot” been discussed in terms of this and her other performances?), it begins to feel all the more important TO consider the pee.

    Not only do we have a 3-month nod to Duchamp, but we’ve also got a pretty weighty picture (however theatrical) of the human/modern condition: a bunch of people (myself included) who spend a great deal of time sitting (probably in a chair, maybe before a table), staring into a constantly-cycling wave of images (in her case, people). I haven’t quite worked the pee-thing into this, but past all the humor, I can’t help but think of the fact that most of us will, some day, be dealing with the embarrassing, mundane, and entirely tragic reality of needing absurd apparatuses (catheters, bedpans, diapers) to collect our pee while regiments of hopefully-kindly, mostly-strangers (nurses, orderlies) provide our only source of human interaction.

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