December 14, 2015 - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Marilyn Arsem: 100 Ways to Consider Time
December 14, 2015

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

View of Marilyn Arsem, 100 Ways to Consider Time, Jeanne and Stokley Towles Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 2015. © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Marilyn Arsem
100 Ways to Consider Time
November 9, 2015–February 19, 2016

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue
Avenue of the Arts
Boston, MA 02115
United States
Hours: Monday–Sunday 10am–5pm,
Wednesday–Friday 10am–10pm

T +1 617 267 9300

www.mfa.org
Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+

Marilyn Arsem
100 Ways to Consider Time
November 9, 2015–February 19, 2016

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue
Avenue of the Arts
Boston, MA 02115
United States
Hours: Monday–Sunday 10am–5pm,
Wednesday–Friday 10am–10pm

T +1 617 267 9300

www.mfa.org
Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+

For her first solo museum exhibition, Boston-based artist Marilyn Arsem carries out the most durational performance to date of her four-decade-long career. Over the course of the 100-day performance, she occupies the gallery daily for six hours. Each new day centers on a single task that marks the passage of time: counting continuously from one to reach 5,800; walking in circular paths for over ten miles total; watching an eight-inch sphere of ice melt; grinding marble stones into dust.

“If viewers have the time to allow themselves to slow down with me," Arsem offers, "small details will become visible. The work could be viewed as if it were a Minimalist or abstract painting or sculpture. In that respect, it operates similarly as a kind of opaque or seemingly simple surface that reflects back to the viewers the complexity of their own thoughts. This is not a work that offers answers, but rather one that provides an opportunity to consider one’s own concerns about the passage of time.” 

Arsem has dedicated her career to exploring the unique characteristics of performance art and the challenges associated with experiencing and documenting time-based, ephemeral work. As such, the audience’s responses and recollections are integral to the documentation of her performances. For 100 Ways to Consider Time, Arsem invites viewers to contribute reflections on how they experience the passage of time in their own lives via letter, e-mail, Twitter, and Instagram, using #MarilynArsem and @mfaBoston. Through Arsem’s performance, the Museum becomes a site of artistic creation in which all who are present with the work participate in shaping its many forms.

Born in 1951, Arsem is a defining figure in the field of performance art and has performed nearly 190 works around the world. In 1977, she founded Mobius, one of the longest-standing artist-run nonprofits in the US, and has since helped establish Boston as a hub for international artists working to advance live art. On the faculty for 27 years at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, she led the performance art program, educating generations of visual artists. In 2015, Arsem became the first performance artist to receive the MFA’s prestigious Maud Morgan Prize, established in 1993 to honor the vanguard spirit of New England artist Maud Morgan (1903–99). The 10,000 USD biennial prize honors a Massachusetts-based woman artist who has made significant contributions to the contemporary arts landscape. 

Throughout the exhibition, the MFA is offering free downloads of a newly released e-book on Arsem’s work, The Performance Art of Marilyn Arsem. As one of the first publications of its kind, this groundbreaking document harnesses the e-book’s capacity to convey key aspects of time-based art through multimedia. Available from the iBooks store, it features rare videos and slideshows of Arsem’s past performances, as well as audio interviews with the artist. The e-book is authored by exhibition curators Liz Munsell, assistant curator of Contemporary Art and Special Initiatives, a position supported by Lorraine Bressler, and Edward Saywell, chair, Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art and Arthur K. Solomon Curator of Modern Art.

Exhibition presented with support from The Contemporaries. Performance Art at the MFA is supported by Lorraine Bressler. Generous support for this publication was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Publications Fund.

Performance art at the MFA 
The MFA is one of the first encyclopedic museums in the US to fully integrate performance art into its collection, exhibitions, and programs. Since the opening of the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art in 2011, the MFA has commissioned and presented dozens of performance artworks by international, national, and local artists, including live works that unfold in the Museum’s galleries and engage with its collection, performances that form part of cross-media contemporary art exhibitions, and interventions that appear in unexpected spaces inside the Museum or outdoors. These foundational, artist-driven projects question the role of performance art in a museum environment and reframe visitors' experiences of the MFA collection. 

Recent exhibitions that have incorporated performance art into their checklists include: Permission To Be Global/Prácticas Globales: Latin American Art from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros CollectionShinique Smith: BRIGHT MATTERConversation Piece, and Crafted: Objects in Flux. Recent performance art-related acquisitions include: Amalia Pica’s Now Speak!, Joan Jonas' Ice Drawing from Reanimation, and Lee Mingwei’s Sonic Blossom

More information and video documentation of select works can be accessed through the MFA’s Performance Art Archive

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100 Ways to Consider Time
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