Last week-end I went to see a documentary film on performance artist Marina Ambromovic's installation at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
The installation was called "The Artist is Present" and in it, she sat across a table making silent eye contact with whomever wanted to show up and sit with her during the hours that the museum was open for 3 months.
So, she showed up and was present to whomever and whatever came in front of her. She became a mirror for the Soul. It was simple, brilliant and courageous work. In a culture that tells us in every way possible that our worth is based on doing, it was an ultimate act of trusting the being-ness of who I am and who you are and whom all of us are. Knowing that is not only enough, but based on the huge turn-out for her show, that it is craved.
It reminded me of time I spent in India, at the guru's feet. Same desire. To see and be deeply seen. To be One with another.
It is the best possibility between lovers. If both people are willing to show up and deeply connect through the Soul, a connection can be made that transcends the body.
Same when breastfeeding an infant and gazing deeply into their eyes as they gaze into yours. These moments have been the most joyful and sublime of my life and I know of others.
My mantra to my students is "Your Presence is Enough, in fact, it is Everything"
The best solo shows are the ones where there is a willingness to be deeply embodied in one's own presence. In a way, the story, no matter how compelling the story, is secondary to the presence of the performer.
Your presence, your ability to set aside your ego and connect with your audience is the offering. It is the gift. It involves doing less and being more.
It is achieved through a deep trust in oneself and a deep trust in life. That is where the real work often lies.
Weaving the depth of your presence with a compelling, dramatic, funny, imaginative, authentic and/or creative story is the heart of your work as a solo artist. It is a journey and a ride, if taken on earnestly, that will take you to every nook and crevice within your own Soul. In your quest, you have offered something true to an audience.
Thank you Marina Abromovic. And Spalding Gray. Thank you John Leguizamo. Thank you Ann Randolph. Thank you Doug Vincent. Thank you to the artists, mothers, deep listeners, dancers, lovers, meditators who are really showing up..on stages and in anonymity.
Thank you for every moment of true presence you offer this wounded world. It alone is the healing. For me, it alone is the art.