By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By day nine, all her movements looked heavy, even turning her head. She had begun using the table or chair to block her entrance into the other rooms, forcing herself to climb over them along the edge. Later she would tell me, "It was all to stay focused." On day 11, she was clearly suffering, expending great effort just to stand up. Many in the audience moved up closer than usual. She explained later that she was just unbelievably dizzy.
On day 12, the space began to fill an hour before the 6 p.m. closing. She moved around more than she had in days, clearly energized by the spectators. She kept attempting to stand right at the edge behind the knife ladder. Kept catching herself, steadying herself against the table she'd overturned. Then she'd step back. She'd tremble. She'd pant. And try again as the room filled wall to wall.
She ended the piece by turning off the metronome, then removing that day's uniform of orange-red and putting on a bathrobe. A real ladder had appeared, and she climbed down. The first thing she said was a joke: "I know I disappoint you because I didn't come down the knife ladder." Back in the gallery's offices, drinking a glass of carrot juice, she reported that her experiment worked. "I became so hypersensitive, I could absolutely pick up everything in the space. I picked up the aurasfor me it was like an ocean of minds there. I could see everybody's light."
Abramovic's installation remains on view through December 21 at Sean Kelly Gallery, 528 West 29th Street.