The two New York shows I'm most interested in this year are Tino Sehgal, which already closed at the Guggenheim, and Marina Abramovic's current retro at the Museum of Modern Art. (I didn't make it to Sehgal but may yet get there for Abramovic.)

Both are performance artists in a way, though Abramovic's work is centered very much around Abramovic. She's perhaps most famous for her 1974 piece Rhythm 0, in which she invited an audience to use 72 objects on her body in any way they wished.

Today I caught up with an artist who said he'd recently been to the MoMA show and was disappointed at how checked-out and narcissistic she came across as being. He pointed out the awkwardness of, some years ago, coming across her in a performance in which she had only recently had breast-augmentation surgery. The plastic surgery aspect of her work—given the central role of her body in her work—is pretty unexamined territory, critically speaking. It's plain weird. I get the sense that certain marks on her body count as artistic gestures and others don't; but that doesn't really follow the rules she's setting out with her works.

Abramovic's show is titled The Artist Is Present, but as someone else pointed out to me today, the verb tense should be something more provisional, like, The Artist Will Be Present—since those are the questions she's posing, especially in her "re-performances" (such as those at the Guggenheim a few years back).

Sehgal's work doesn't erase the ego any more than Abramovic's does, as John Perreault made me see:

Of course I liked This Progress. It was all about me, and I am sure others had the same experience.

One of Abramovic's works in the MoMA show has a naked couple in a doorway, so that you have to decide whether to squeeze past them, possibly touching them, or go in to the room through a side door.

WNYC's got the audience reaction on the sidewalk outside the museum. Here's a couple's reaction to the couple:

The other vids are great, too.

What would you do??

I would walk through the nudes, but I'm not sure it would actually affect me. I'm curious what I'd feel. (I've got a history in locker rooms thanks to an athletic background that makes me numb to nakedness, relatively speaking.) I suppose I'd want to do it facing the woman first, and then facing the man. I'm not sure why, but that seems like a good idea. Then I'd want to go in the side door and see what that's like. Then maybe I'd redo my favorite. By this point everyone would probably think I'm a pervert, or obsessed, or both. Which maybe I am.