In Amelia Jones’s article entitled, “Presence in Absentia,” the author discusses the difficulties with documenting performance art. When reflect on the concept, it becomes more clear to me the many factors that cannot be captured in photography when it comes to performance. A photograph cannot describe the grace of a performer, or the lack of grace, if that is the aim of the performer. Even in descriptive writing, if one was to aim to accurately document a performance, the perspective of the writer gets in the way of accuracy. The beginning of the article mentions Marina Abramovic. Her work is intriguing. I visited her exhibition at the MoMA a couple of years ago. While it is easy to describe her endurance-based exhibitions, it doesn’t compare to attending the museum and seeing it for oneself.

The author notes that photography takes away the idea that “such a dependence is founded on belief systems similar to those underlying the belief in the “presence” of the bodyin-performance” (Jones, 15). The author soon references Yayoi Kusama. I’ve recently attended her exhibition at the Whitney Museum. Her paintings are stunning. After recently discovering her work, I’ve been motivated to see her performance. The vast difference of the medium makes me feel as though just because I’m familiar with one type of work, she is completely a stranger to me in other media.

In the final paragraph of the article, the author writes: “such a desire for immediacy is, precisely, a modernist (if in this case also
clearly avant-garde) dream” (Jones, 8). I found this quote particularly special because immediacy is part of what makes being part of the audience to performance so special. In the same way that musicians are expected to improvise once in a while based on the moment, performers may have the same expectations imposed on them. In the way that performance reflects people and our tendencies, immediacy is one of the most sacred characteristics that we possess.

-Olivia Hu