2009 – It all began 9 years ago when Marina Abramović won the “Lorenzo Il Magnifico” Lifetime Achievement Award at the 7th Florence Biennale and presented her Manifesto for the first time at the Fortezza da Basso.
She was intense in her being an artist, in her interpreting and giving meaning to every word: she was sensual, she was magnetic, she was “present”. After a rush of applause and paparazzi flashes that seemed to diminish the value of her Manifesto, it was time to leave, with the dissatisfaction of not having met her.
I then continued the evening by visiting the rest of the exhibition, amidst obscene things and real works of art (some of which I still have leaflets), until suddenly, while I was chatting with my friends, I was in front of her.
Here’s the moment… or now, or never again.
I took courage and went to meet her.
As a 20-something-year-old fool, I went for it, getting rid of the context and the formality of the occasion. From my bag, I proudly took out a copy of L’Uomo Vogue in which she appeared half-naked in a splendid article by Francesco Carrozzini, and I asked her to sign it for me.
She laughed, looked at the magazine, raised it and proudly showed it to all the bystanders, including the organisers of the Biennale, saying that those photos were a bit like her personal version of Playboy. She signed those pages, feeling amused, thanking and greeting me.
I had met my art-icon, I was over the moon. Shortly afterwards, I met her again outside the building. I waved at her and seeing that she warmly returned my gesture, was a confirmation of her genuineness and sensitivity.
2018 – The exhibition “Marina Abramović – The Cleaner” opens at Palazzo Strozzi, and on Twitter, I discover that, for those who manage to sign up, there is the opportunity to meet Marina individually on the occasion of the book signing of the new volume “Interviews”.
I think about it, but in the end, I book the meeting. It’s an opportunity to meet her again, and I would have bought that book anyway.
Enthusiastic about my choice, while I’m printing the ticket, I think about what I want to say to her, and one thing is sure: – I have to show her again that copy of L’uomo Vogue that’s in my archive.
I show up for the appointment half an hour in advance, but a hundred people already create a long snake that, as a few nights before for the opening, winds up outside Palazzo Strozzi.
Surprisingly, the line runs fast, too fast for me. I’m afraid that the book-signing it’s more like an assembly line where there’s not even time to look at each other’s faces. I know myself, I’ve come this far, on a Sunday morning, I want to meet her, as well as I want her to see my face!
It’s my turn, I kindly ask a girl from the staff of Palazzo Strozzi if she can take a picture of me while enjoying this long-awaited moment in person and not through the screen of a smartphone.
I approach the desk and with a confident tone I exclaim: – Hi Marina!
She looks up from the “assembly line” of the book-signing, looks at me in the face and with a big smile says: – Hello!
– I know you don’t recognise me, but we met a long time ago.
– Uh sorry…unfortunately I don’t even remember what I ate last night, but it’s possible!
While smiling I unveil my old magazine and say to her: – Look here!
Her signature in pen stands out on the photo by Carrozzini.
She is astounded, amazed and stunned by the shooting.
I tell her what she said to me on that occasion, and she feels obliged to sign again, just below, as if to give witness to our second meeting.
She looks at the photos, she looks at the pages like in a mirror and tells me that it’s a crazy thing, it’s a dive into the past. She shows the copy to the boy next to her, we talk, we exchange some jokes.
Contact is made. The book-signing assembly line is broken.
Although on different levels, a connection of memories had been created.
She greets me and says: “This thing is crazy! Thank you very much!”
Dear Marina, thanks to you, you have no idea how much you made me happy confirming your genuineness again as a person and an artist.
PS: The fact that shortly after a pseudo-artist – real idiot – threw a frame at her to literally “frame Marina” with all the hatred he had in his body, makes me understand how sick and altered is the perception of art and artists through the media, especially when it comes to big names.
PPS: Thanks to the staff of Palazzo Strozzi, but especially to the girl who took about 30 photos that I will keep jealously, in digital memory, as well as in my memories.