Museum of Modern Love
by Rose, Heather






A restless film score composer is mesmerized by a piece of performance art that he revisits over 75 days also shaped by new bonds and a growing awareness of what has been missing from his life. Original.





Heather Rose is the author of three children’s books and four adult novels. She has received numerous awards for her work. She was the inaugural Writer in Residence at the Tasmanian Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), and she is the 2017 recipient of the Christina Stead Prize and the Stella Prize, a major award for Australian female writers, for The Museum of Modern Love. This is her first adult novel to be published in the United States.





*Starred Review* A "strange hybrid of fact and fiction" is what Australian writer Rose calls this deeply involving novel inspired by famed performance artist Marina Abramovic's The Artist Is Present-a now-legendary 2010 work at New York's Museum of Modern Art during which she sat in rigorous stillness for 75 long days, facing 1,545 people who, one-by-one, sat across from her in eye-to-eye communion. An intriguing cast of characters are drawn to and mesmerized by this silent ritual, primary among them Arky Levin. A successful film composer, he is now engulfed by guilt and anxiety as his wife, a renowned architect, struggles with a debilitating blood disease in a nursing home. Other regular attendees include a recently widowed, friendly, middle-school art teacher from Georgia; a Japanese-Dutch PhD candidate with "neon-pink hair, red lips, purple contacts"; a strikingly beautiful black, Muslim art critic; the photographer chronicling every sitting; and the ghost of Abramovic's Serbian war-hero mother. Each offers an illuminating perspective on the proceedings, adding to the mystery and power of Abramovic's life and performance, and engendering profound questions about the divide between artist and art, artist and audience, self and creativity, love and spirit. Rose's emotionally rich and thought-provoking homage and inquiry should prompt readers to seek out Abramovic's dramatic memoir, Walk through Walls (2016) Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.





Artist Marina Abramovic's marathon 2010 performance at the Museum of Modern Art becomes the focus of Rose's tremblingly earnest novel, the Australian writer's first novel for adults to be published in the U.S. "This is not a story of potential," announces the ominously angelic narrator who hovers over the novel, half muse and half ghost. "It is a story of convergence." And so we meet Arky Levin, a noted composer of film scores, who has found himself unmoored after separating from his beloved wife. The circumstances are complicated: Incapacitated from a genetic condition, she has retreated to a home in the Hamptons, given their medical-student daughter power of attorney, and ordered Arky never to see her. It is in this state that he finds his way to MoMA, where Abramovi? is staging The Artist Is Present, for which she sits, still and in silence, as audience members take turns sitting across from her. There he meets Jane, a tourist and recent widow transfixed by the performance . She is not alone. There is Brittika, a Dutch graduate student writing her dissertation on Abramovic. There is Healayas, an art critic and old friend of Arky's—once, she was the girlfriend of his longest-time collaborator, who betrayed them both. The performance is the gravitational pull of the novel, the point of convergence; no one emerges unchanged. Abramovic, too, is a character here: Large swathes of the book contend with her childhood and previous work, situating The Artist Is Present in her past. (Abramovic gave Rose permission to use her as a character.) It's a bold proposition—Rose does not shy away from grappling with questions about the meaning and purpose of art—but too often, the answers to those questions tend to feel like platitudes about art and suffering. "Art will wake you up," Abramovic's childhood tutor announces. "Art will break your heart." Art, Jane muses, offers "a kind of access to a universal wisdom." The real power of the book, t h ough, lies not in its philosophizing but in the unsteady tenderness between its characters. A book that attempts to walk the thin line between the trite and the profound—and sometimes succeeds. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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