Movie lights surround Abramovic as MoMA’s atrium is turned into a film set (MoMA is slowly figuring out how to use this vast, cold space which is its center). Three HD cameras record Abramovic’s performance at all times and a man with a still camera stands behind Abramovic, taking extreme close-ups of each person who sits across from her. There are signs alerting the public that whoever enters acknowledges consent to being videotaped and photographed, giving up all rights to these images.
There are other signs stating that no photographs can be taken in the atrium, and there are guards set up at either ends to insure that this doesn’t occur. Luck only for those with a long lens.
There is no photography allowed in any part of the Abramovic show, there was no photography allowed in the recent Tino Seghal show at the Guggenheim or of any other Seghal piece for that matter, there was no photography and even more egregious, no note taking(!) allowed in the Urs Fischer show at the New Museum. I’ve spent the last few years fighting with everyone and anyone who has challenged my right to shoot in public spaces. Granted, a museum is a private form of public space and we’re surrounded by ever more of these hybrid spaces as true public space shrinks.
I understand that museums have the ‘right’ to forbid any activity on their premises. But by denying viewers’ rights while invoking their own, what kind of controlling (precious) atmosphere do these museums and artists want to promote? It seems to put us back several decades in terms of the positioning and passivity of the viewer. These tactics also mimic those of large information-gathering corporations as well as our own government’s Department of Homeland Security. What is up here?