After becoming an internet sensation, Marco Anelli's powerful portraits of sitters in the historic 2010 Marina Abramovic performance at the Museum of Modern Art are now collected and available in their entirety in the Damiani monograph, Portraits in the Presence of Marina Abramovic.
The centerpiece of The Artist is Present, the landmark retrospective of this pioneer of performance art's oeuvre, was Abramovic herself, who sat silently in the museum's atrium inviting visitors to take a seat across from her for as long as they chose. She sat every day for the run of the show—716 hours and 30 minutes— and faced over 1500 people, whose involvement completed the work. Photographer and collaborator Anelli documented every interaction, taking a portrait of each participant and noting the time they spent in the chair.
Just as Abramovic's piece concerned duration, the photographs give the viewer a chance to experience the performance from Abramovic's perspective. They reveal both dramatic and mundane moments, and speak to the humanity of such interactions, just as the performance itself did. The resultant photographs are mesmerizing and intense, putting a face to the world of art lovers while capturing what they shared during their contact with the artist.
Reminiscent of Walker Evans's subway photographs and Harry Callahan's Women Lost in Thought, this powerful series speaks to photography's capacity to explore the human experience from an unobserved view-point. While Anelli is not engaging the sitters or Abramovic directly, his meta-performance as gathered in Portraits in the Presence of Marina Abramovic is a compelling testament to the cathartic power of the gaze and our connection to one another.
Marco Anelli's (born in Rome, 1968) work has been widely published and exhibited throughout Italy, including at the Museo della Permanente, Milan, and IX International Biennial of Photography, Turin. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Mario Giacomelli Memorial Prize and Orvieto Photography Award. His collaboration with Marina Abramovic began in 2007.