A BILLBOARD-SIZE, BLACK-AND-WHITE Marina Abramović gazes out over the entrance to her retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, echoing the valiant, faraway expression of Che Guevara in the iconic Korda photograph (and, by extension, Obama in Shepard Fairey’s posterized portrait). Looking at this visage, I want to believe. I want to believe that the photomural critically performs a collective desire for hope and heroics—our recurring dream that what the world of politics won’t give us, the art world will. I want to believe that its location at the beginning of this show, billed as MoMA’s first performance retrospective and titled “The Artist Is Present,” is an acknowledgment that the genre of “performance art” has always been compromised from within, producing spectacle and personality cult even as it generates authenticity and intersubjectivity. I want to believe that Abramović

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