Art, music, love, life and loss: a novel that weaves these themes together falls into a favourite genre for me. And obviously for many others, given that Heather Rose has won the Stella Prize for her 2017 novel The Museum of Modern Love.
I love it when I discover something new that I had never heard about before, and I confess that I had never heard of the artist Marina Abramović before reading this novel that is inspired by her work.
The Artist is Present was an amazingly popular artwork that Marina performed at MoMA in 2010. For seventy-five days Marina sat while individuals sat across from her one after another. 1,554 people sat while another 850,000 observed from the sidelines, many coming back.
Here is a video clip from the last day of her sit. And here is another astounding video of when Ulay came back to see her after their epic parting on the Great Wall of China years before in 1988.
Heather Rose writes:
The days had been fields of faces, bright, unique, vivid, strange. …Every face told countless lives and memories and part of humanity she had never glimpsed, not through all the years of seeking.
But it is the intertwining story of Arky Levin that gives this work of fiction life and opportunity for exquisite prose.
His hands ran up and down the keyboard…He heard the theme that would run in and out of the film, threading the scenes together. Raindrops falling on leaves, a moon in the sky and this lovely melody.
He is a sad, reserved, composer of film scores: a private man who is reluctantly drawn into this temporary and unusual life that surrounds Marina Abramović as she sits and gazes into the eyes of strangers at MoMA.
Rarely do I give a 5-star rating on GoodReads. Thank you Heather Rose.