Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hotel Room Art Project: The Artist is Present

by Drew Martin
On my recent Thanksgiving trip to Richmond, Virginia, I thought it would be wise to check my family of five into a hotel instead of invading my brother's house, where he lives with his family of five and was hosting my visiting parents. I got two connected rooms in a nice hotel with a beautiful view of the James River, but the space still felt impersonal so I came up with an art project to change the experience. I liked the idea of using the iron in the room because the simple domestic act of pressing clothes always makes me feel at home. Downtown Richmond is dead after business hours/during holidays but there was an open Rite Aid nearby, which is where I bought some white T-shirts. On the drive down I started thinking that such a project might develop so we made a stop at a road-side Staples for a pack of iron-transfer sheets. I used the hotel wi-fi to Google the images I wanted and tried to print them at the business center in the lobby but they only had a black-ink printer, so I asked my niece to print them in color.

When it all came together I had a one-of-a-kind Marina 
Abramović shirt. On the front is a picture of Abramović from The Artist is Present performance in which she sat still and silent, and stared at the faces of visitors, who sat across from her, one at a time. Abramović performed seven and a half hours a day for three months at MoMA.

I typically do not like symbols or faces on my shirts but I liked the idea of Abramović from this performance because it meant that I could sit at a table with someone and if I proved boring, he or she could just stare at my knock-off shirt for a knock-off performance. I also like what 
Abramović's title The Artist is Present meant to this small art project done to fill the void of what is missing in a hotel room. On the back of the shirt is a picture of Abramović and an exhibit visitor, and the text,

My artsy friends all went to see The Artist is Present with Marina Abramović and all I got was this crummy T-shirt.