Brian Feldman had a dream. He shared it with me months ago at a Toast to Elizabeth Maupin at the Repertory Theater in Orlando Loch Haven Park. He told me that he wanted to sit opposite Marina Abramovic, the world’s greatest living performance artist, who was having a retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) called "The Artist is Present." On top of it all, Brian wanted me to join him on the quest knowing I would get a great sketch. The MoMA exhibition consisted of Marina sitting in the center of the atrium with spectators having the ability to sit opposite her and look into her eyes for as long as they could last, as an exercise in being present in the moment with another person. Brian wanted to camp out overnight outside the museum on the final day of the exhibit to be first in line to sit opposite Marina and then he hoped to sit opposite her for seven straight hours. Brian raised money to get himself to NYC through donations at his parallel performance "The Staring Contest." One person was generous enough to actually give Brian their Delta Sky Miles. The dream was now a reality. Marina had been performing "The Artist is Present" for two and a half straight months and Brian was determined to be there on the final day, May 31st.
The day started with surprises. Upon his arrival to MoMA, Brian found out that they were allowing people to sit opposite Marina for only 10 minutes. Though disappointed, he kept moving forward rather than turning back. Though he camped outside the museum, there were 29 people who were in front of him in a line that inched forward in agonizingly slow increments. There was no guarantee that Brian would even get the chance he had planned and trained for over many months.The exhibit drew people from all over and there were many who waited patiently along with Brian for their chance to be present with Marina. Photographer Marco Anelli took photos of every person who sat opposite Marina. Shortly after the exhibit opened, a young woman in a one piece dress approached Marina and before she sat down, whipped the dress up over her head and stood naked for a split second in the center of the crowded room. Guards rushed around her and shielded the audience from getting a clear view of the woman. Crying, she was led away. As the pandemonium died down, he glanced over at me and raised his hands and shoulders in a gesture that said, "What the ...?" Brian regained his focus and waited for his chance to face Marina.