The work “The Artist Is Not Present” shows what happens when the artist disappears and we are left with a purely material world. In her world famous performance “The Artist Is Present” Marina Abramovic sat at a table for months and visitors could sit opposite her and stare into her eyes. By taking her away it only became a table and two chairs. But because I, as an artist, placed this on an empty Museumplein where all physical places for art are closed by Corona, it has again become more than just a table and two chairs. At the same time the chairs are very far apart against the edge of the platform so it also refers to social distancing while at the same time being a place of encounter. Or as one of the many who reacted via my social media wrote to me: “Where it used to be a place for self-glorification in a tourist attraction, it is now a place of awareness and conversation. “I could write more, but the great thing is that an image often says more than the proverbial 1000 words and that empty table and chairs on that empty Museumplein is for me an image that in a few years’ time will be able to show what this time was like.
What does the artist add to the space? Can a spatial intervention itself also be art, without the presence of its maker or audience? With this simple installation, Dadara transforms Museumplein – one of the busiest squares in Amsterdam – into a time document that shows social and physical distance. The work has been removed by order of the city council and thus – unintentionally – also reflects on the question of who the public space belongs to. Who is allowed to use it and to what extent, that question seems to characterize this time.
By Stichting NDSM-werf