by Dale Thompson
Time is a tricky thing. Minutes tick by and hours slip through our fingers never to be held again. Internationally recognized performance artist Marilyn Arsem is bringing her talents to Salt Lake City and tackling this elusive theme in a piece titled Marking Time. In a press release, Arsem observed, “Time has a way of unraveling at different velocities. It can be excruciatingly slow, moving through your body like molasses. But then it can suddenly accelerate and vanish so rapidly that you are unable to capture even a moment, no matter swift your grasp.”
Arsem has performed in 27 countries throughout the world. John Sproul, owner of Nox Contemporary where Arsem will be performing, notes, “This is a unique experience for Utah and everyone needs to come for at least five minutes. It’s a rare opportunity,” he says. “She’s actually considered one of the American pioneers of performance art.” Like moments in time the piece is one-of-a-kind and will never be repeated.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with performance art Sproul explains, “It’s meditative and reflective. The work is not so much about movement, it’s more about presence, taking that presence and magnifying it.” Some of you may have been present for Ernesto Pujol’s Awaiting in 2010. For 12 hours, performers dressed in white circled the steps of the capitol building. Many observers stayed for hours, transfixed by the intriguing, haunting performance. Other people paused, confused. One person was overhead asking, “What are they protesting?” Whatever their reason, people stopped to look and take part in the experience.
Performance art takes the audience on a journey. It can be complex and thought provoking or meditative. Each person sees something different in the movement of the performer. Arsem will be Marking Time and exploring the space in those passing minutes and hours. Salt Lake has an opportunity to observe and explore with her.
On Friday, November 9, Arsem will give a lecture about performance art at the University of Utah Fine Art Department, Room 158 at 5 pm. Marking Time will take place on Saturday, November 10 from 10 am to 6pm at Nox Contemporary. People are welcome to come and go at any time. The performance is free and open to the public.
Dale Thompson has a B.A. in Liberal Arts from The Evergreen State College and an Masters degree in communications from Westminster College. Her writing career includes work for a local theatre, journalism in Park City, and freelance contributions for various nonprofit organizations.