“For the first three months, I place each student at a table with a thousand pieces of white paper and a trash can underneath. Every day they have to sit at the table for several hours and write ideas. They put the ideas they like on the right side of the table; the ones they don’t like, they put in the trash. But we don’t throw out the trash. After three months, I only take the ideas from the trash can. I don’t even look at the ideas they liked. Because the trash can is a treasure trove of things they’re afraid to do.”
― Marina Abramović, Walk Through Walls: Becoming Marina Abramovic
Cate Blanchett in “Waiting for the Artist”
I have always loved documentaries. Now in this age of streaming – documentary watching has become like drinking from a firehose.
One time, I can’t remember where… probably a college film festival in the 70’s I saw a documentary by Stan Woodward about grits. This was probably the first transformative documentary I saw – I was a different person (at least slightly) after I saw it. I wrote about this years later, many years ago, in my first blog and lamented the fact that I couldn’t find the thing anywhere and had to be satisfied with only seeing it once. A kind reader mailed me a VHS copy.
Of course, it wasn’t as good as I remembered.
Now, in this best of all possible worlds, we don’t only have documentaries… we have mockumentaries. If done well these too can be… if not transformative at least moderately entertaining. That might be all we can ask for anymore.
There is even a series of mockumentaries, “Documentary Now!“, on IFC. A new season is under way, and the latest one is brilliant. It is called “Waiting for the Artist” and is a riff (a very close one at that) on the famous work “The Artist Is Present” about the famous (and famously insane) performance artist Marina Abramović.
Somehow, they convinced Cate Blanchett to portray Marina Abramović – and she is spot on.
If you have IFC, be sure and check out “Waiting for the Artist” – it hits the perfect place between lunacy and pathos and even has a bit of a point to it.
And the ending is really, really funny.
Youtube has a copy of the original Marina Abramović documentary. Marina is even crazier than the character in the mockumentary.