Jan. 20 2015 04:31 PM

Performance artist reminds locals of the importance of being present

The Abramovic Method Workshop at UCSD

Excitement reverberated through the San Diego art scene when the UCSD Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination announced a visit by performance artist Marina Abramovi? and invited folks to apply to participate in a workshop with her.

Abramovi? has been recognized internationally for years, but since her crowd-drawing retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 2010, her level of fame has risen dramatically. These days, the 68-year-old artist can't walk down the street without someone waving her down.

"Everyone wants a selfie with me now," Abramovi? laughs in a recent interview with CityBeat (read the full interview here).

Workshop participants helped Abramovi? create a new audio work—a collaboration with science-fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, an early draft of which was unveiled in the UCSD Art Gallery last Thursday evening and will be accessible through Jan. 30.

Katherine Harroff, artistic director of the Circle Circle Dot Dot theater company, was among the few locals selected to work with Abramovi?. She says the workshop included long-durational exercises like staring into a complete stranger's eyes, meticulously counting lentils and rice and walking around the gallery blindfolded while wearing noise-canceling headphones.

"I was nervous going in that the whole experience would be torture," Harroff says. "But, mostly, I ended up walking away realizing that it's so rare we're able to actually be fully present in a moment…."

Abramovi? was pleased with Harroff's takeaway.

"Yes, one of the points is to give yourself time, which is so, so precious these days," she says.

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