Art that screams for attention — progress in postmodern art

At the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, Marina Abramović hired a man to lie on a bed and scream for 2.5 hours (or until his voice gives out, according to the show’s pamphlet).

Nearby, at the Finglefarber Asylum for the Touchingly Insane, one may also hear a bedded man screaming — but the two productions are not to be confused, for both hermeneutical and ontological reasons.

The seminal work in the tradition of screaming is Edvard Munch’s, of course. Yet that piece has been justly criticized for its lack of realism. A picture of a man screaming, René Magritte taught us, is of course not a man screaming. Abramović’s work thus represents a clear advance.

We may also detect Abramović’s cagey reference to performer John Cage, who gave us 4’33” of silence. Silence is the non-being of sound, thus making Abramović’s production the very fullness of being. The alleged emptiness of modernist art is thereby refuted.

And staying with the clever-reversals theme, we should dwell upon the fact that the work is created by a woman but is of a man lying on a bed and screaming. The feminist implications will doubtless be noted and explored.

Sponsored by Mama and Dada Lozenges Corporation, which invites those who appreciate Abramović’s piece to reenact it often and vigorously.

[Thanks to Irfan Gülkan for the link.]


“Progress in postmodern art, Millie Brown edition.”

“Does Martin Creed Speak for All of Us?”

“The Most Important Artist of the Century.” Translation into Portuguese.

“Why Art Became Ugly.” Translations into German, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese.

“Taking Modern Artists at Their Word.” Translation into Portuguese.

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