Out of the four days spent in Italy, one was spent, not in Florence, because that would imply that I saw the town, but in Pallazzo Storzzi, which happens to be in Florence.
The reason why I went there is because of the retrospective of Marina’s works, The Cleaner.
Some background information: a day before I walked around Rome and was soo tired: me feet and back hurt pretty badly. In this condition I had to run after the train from Rome to Florence because the buses in Rome come rarely and I got to the train station late. The area around the train station in Florence is to be avoided. I only have a comparison for Romanians: amintește-ți cum erau Gara de Nord și Obor acum 10 ani. 😉 So if you take the train to Florence get out of there fast, which is not hard, the center in 5 minutes away and that looks pretty… much like any other Italian city. As I said, I wasn’t paying much attention: going I was too tired, coming I was too Zen.
So, I was pretty messed up when I got to the venue of the exhibition, which looks like a simple medieval building on the outside, made of brick and massive looking, especially in the narrow streets. I wanted to stay in the exhibition all day, but at this point I had no idea how I would manage. I just wanted to sit down and even sleep. Anyway, I closed my phone and got in. Yeah, no photos. Though I am very tempted to find photos from all the … Yeah… Nevermind. No photos.
Fortunately, Pallazzo Storzzi was constructed in a perfect way to become a museum where… one wouldn’t have to crawl out of from being too tired. What do I mean? Well, it seems the original architecture includes under the windows some sort of concrete porches with stairs that are just perfect to be used as benches by the visitors. So in each room you had where to sit and take in what was shown.
Add to this Marina’s Transitory objects and you get a great opportunity to come out better than when you got in.
The first part of the exhibition that I saw was the one down stairs and going through it I was pleased to see I knew everything. I did see some videos of performances that I only knew of from stories. But overall I was wondering a bit if that plan to spend all day there would really come to pass. In one room there was exhibited in the middle, a transitory object: Bed for humans. A wood crate long enough for an average height human to lay on, with crystals at the head and feet. It had instructions that went like: lay on the bed, your eyes closed until your body is relaxed. I waited a bit in line, then I lay upon it. While I was waiting I was thinking that if I lay there, I will fall asleep. For this reason I didn’t close my eyes. Instead I looked straight at the crystal above my head. It looked really nice in the dim light. As I was laying there I felt how my back hurt really bad. I thought to stay there until my back didn’t hurt at all. So I stared at the crystal seeing the moving patterns inside it, oblivious of the room around me. At one point I was relaxed, enough that my back didn’t hurt. I didn’t not mention, but my soles were also hurting from the walk I took the day before. Turns out when I got up they weren’t hurting anymore. Neither was my back. So cool. I need to get a wood crate instead of my bed. 💙
I felt ready to see the rest of the exhibition, so I went upstairs.
There were supposed to be four re-performances, but only one was scheduled every day and the other one that was that day was in a room were only 25 people fit in, so I decided to go count rice. To be honest life decided that for me, because I didn’t pay attention to the schedule of the performance. It was only and hour a day. However, I was in no shape to fight for a chair. I had only regained my calmness and the room seem small without people in it. I do not want to see it full.
I mentioned counting rice. That is one of the exercises from the Abramović Method. The only one presented in this exhibition. We could sit at a table with headphones that would block the surrounding sound (quite ineffective against a child making noise😅). We would take some rice and lentil and then separate the rice from the lentil and count it. Like Cinderella. It is terribly calming. I have no idea why Cinderella was fussing about. She could have been a Marina Abramović (independent and role model for others, women or men), but she (well, her creators) chose to be “saved by a prince”.
I did see some performances I did not know and read a bit more about some others. I saw the full four minutes of Rest energy. I wish that we could have heard their heart bits too. There was some intentional, I guess, cacophony from the sounds of performances in different rooms overlapping through the open doors. In one room, where there were several Transitory objects, you could hear the songs from the performance being showcased on screens in the previous room. The Serbian songs gave me a very peaceful feeling.
Of course, I tried all the objects, but none had the effect of the first one which is something I expected. After all, if you sit or whatever, calm, when you get up or whatever, you’re still calm. No difference. And after counting rice my mind was also clear. After seeing so much art the past two days my mind was cluttered, but taking the time to do something simple and just pause really helped. I felt rested and with some sort of order in my head and this despite parents thinking the Counting rice room was a place to leave their children to play and make as much noise as they wanted.
You know how I said that if I lay on the Bed for humans I will fall asleep. Well, I sat on a chair with crystals on the back and since the instructions kept insisting to “closed your eyes”, I thought I was well enough by this stage to close my eyes. I didn’t fall asleep, but sitting there with the eyes closed when I was completely relaxed I got a feeling of falling and I had to open my eyes. I guess that is the moment right before falling asleep. If I were laying down I’m sure I would have slept like a baby. 😂 Not because I was tired, but because that’s what happens when you are relaxed and with your eyes closed. 😄 Luckily I cannot sleep standing or sitting. 😂 (I actually remember that I fell asleep sitting at least once 😅 so I guess I wasn’t that tired)
Regarding the works exhibited, they really give a complete view of Marina’s work on performance art and interacting with the public. Her theatrical works are missing however, but I guess that wasn’t in the scope and frankly I do not care much for it. I recommend seeing The Cleaner if you are somewhat familiar with Marina’s works, especially if you read the whole lot of bullshit about her that’s on the web. You should go see/ read the whole lot of bullshit she actually said / did. 👍
It turns out, I did spend 7 hours in the exhibition.
Two more things I was reminded of when I went to this exhibition:
1. An artist should have more and more of less and less – so I bought no souvenirs
2. An artist should have friends that lift their spirit #nopressure 😅