The self-proclaimed "grandmother of performance art," Abramović's work explores the complicated relationship between performer and audience, and stretches the limits of the human body, and imagination. She began her career in the 1970s with several shocking exhibitions, the most notorious of which, 1974's
Rhythm 0, saw Abramović place 72 objects on a table in front of her—including scissors, a whip, and a gun with a single bullet—and, for six hours, the public could use the objects any way they chose on her, while the artist remained passive (one man held the loaded gun to her neck). However, her most popular performance occurred from March 14 to May 31, 2010, at New York City's Museum of Modern Art.
The Artist Is Present consisted of Abramović sitting silently in a chair in the museum's atrium, while visitors took turns sitting opposite her in a staring contest of sorts. She sat and stared for six days a week during museum hours without a break, resulting in an epic 736-hour and 30-minute static work of performance art that
attracted celebrities like Sharon Stone, Lou Reed, and Christiane Amanpour, and whose online live feed
received 800,000 hits. "What I know now is that she and MoMA have brought some magic back into art—the sort of magic that all of our courses in art history and appreciation had encouraged us to hope for,"
said renowned art critic and philosopher Arthur Danto.