The Museum of Modern Love
This book, The Museum of Modern Love, is about art, contemporary life, and maybe about love, though not in the romantic sense. The main characters are largely a cast of fictitious people whose lives intersect when they attend a non-fictitious exhibit of performance art at the Museum of Modern Art. This exhibit, called The Artist Is Present, actually happened in 2010, and the artist in question, Marina Abramovic, is quite real.
Truly, the book – the exhibit – is about people communicating with each other in our increasingly-isolating world. The Artist is Present consists of the artist, Marina Abramovic, sitting in a chair facing an empty chair which is filled by one after another of the exhibit-goers, who wait in line for to take their turn to sit, and then hold the eye of the artist for as long as their own emotions can do it.
What we see is wordless, soulful communication between two strangers. The book tells of the emotions of both the chair sitters and those who watch them sit.
I have conflicted feelings about this book. The writing is exquisite, the subject matter beautiful but, occasionally, too dense to follow. It took me a long time to get the point of the whole thing. I only came to appreciate the story in the final pages of the book – more so, truly, when I was done, googled the artist, and listened to her voice tell the real-life purpose of the exhibit in question.
If I had time, knowing what I know now, I would re-read this book. The fact that its point eluded me during much of the reading may have been a weakness of the author. Or a weakness of me. Or it may have been the fact that I listened to the audiobook.
I suspect that this is a book better read than heard.
The farther away I move from this book, the better I like it. My recommendation to you? Google the artist, Marina Abramovic, before you start reading. It’ll make the book far more meaningful.