A London art exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts making visitors squeeze between two nude models upon entrance has sparked mixed reactions.
Nothing spells “art” then making people awkwardly shuffle between two buck naked strangers while trying to avoid eye-contact think about their rubbing against their private parts. Talk about stuck between a rock and a hard place!
This bizarre display, titled “Imponderabilia,” is part of a career retrospective of Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović. Andrea Tarsia, the Royal Academy’s head of exhibitions, described it as a “confrontation between nakedness, and the gender, the sexuality, the desire.”
While some have applauded the daring approach to art, critics have not been as kind. The Times dubbed the exhibition a “remorseless show” and “a sad spool of self-harm and suffocation,” while The Telegraph suggested that the artist had “egregiously lost her way.”
Visitors to the exhibition had varying degrees of enthusiasm for the immersive experience. The Times’ Laura Freeman humorously noted, “You don’t have to go through the naked gates. There’s a bypass, but it’s cheating. I squeezed through, sucking in my stomach, trying not to tread on anyone’s toes or brush against anything.”
The Telegraph’s Alastair Sooke was similarly preoccupied, stating that he was “too preoccupied with not stamping on their toes” to fully appreciate any artistic frisson as he passed through the installation.
The unconventional artwork, originally staged in 1977 by Abramović and her then-partner Ulay, involved the artists standing closely together in a doorway, requiring visitors to pass between them. For those uncomfortable with the intimate encounter, a separate entrance is provided.
The Royal Academy of Arts emphasized the safety and welfare of the performers, with gallery staff on standby to protect them from unwanted touching or inappropriate behavior.
Marina Abramović’s presence in the main galleries marks a significant milestone, as she becomes the first female artist in the academy’s 255-year history to perform in this prestigious venue.