Marilyn Arsem @ uneARTh

In December 2006, Marilyn Arsem performed a piece titled “How Long” atPresent Tense’s uneARTh. The piece was composed of a simple actionwith complex implications. The action; how long can she hold herbreath underwater. To add to the action, a video projection of gentlymoving waves illuminates the wall behind her. But we cant hear it, instead, we hear the visceral noises of Marilyn submerging her face in a bowl of water and coming up a minute (or two) later for one breath of air. This performance is a poignant look at the body’s most basic of all needs, and the ambivalence of the material itself. Our relationship with water is one based on vitality, however in alternate context’s if you don’t respect it, it will destroy you. In that sense, this piece could have been an homage to Bas Jan Ader, another performance artist who final action was being swallowed by the ocean. Marilyn reminds us that not only are we mortal, but that we are at the mercy of our basic needs.