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A documentary on Jacques Vergès, the controversial lawyer and former Free French Forces guerrilla who has defending unpopular figures such as Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.
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This feature-length documentary film follows the artist as she prepares for what may be the most important moment of her life: a major retrospective of her work at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. To be given a retrospective at one of the world's premiere museums is, for any living artist, the most exhilarating sort of milestone. For Marina, it is far more - it is the chance to finally silence the question she has been hearing over and over again for four decades: 'But why is this art?' Written by
Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present is a rather detailed documentary about the exhibition of the same name at MoMA in 2010. It won't change your opinion about it, though. Whether you agree that Marina is the "grandmother of performance art" or you feel that contemporary art is nothing but hot air, those points of view are left unchallenged.
There is little background information about the artist, which should be standard for a movie determined to address a much wider audience than art aficionados. So we're left with a lot of people asserting Marina's importance for the history of arts and some archive footage to corroborate that.
There's no doubt The Artist Is Present is as a milestone for the arts of the 21st century, but at this point a movie about it is just another documentary.
By the way, my favorite moment is when in the background of an interview a visitor to the exhibition asked which one of the two sitting was Marina. How imperceptible must you be to visit a museum where walls of each room are covered with photos and videos of the artist and not recognize her? Or was it just another consumer who's been told not to miss the event? After all, someone in the movie mentioned "market for Marina's work" and she admitted liking life's simple pleasures, such as shopping designer clothes in Paris...
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