Read The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose Online


A mesmerising literary novel about a lost man in search of connection - a meditation on love, art and commitment, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest art events in modern history, Marina Abramovic's The Artist is Present.'This is a weirdly beautiful book.' David Walsh founder and curator, MONA'Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you hA mesmerising literary novel about a lost man in search of connection - a meditation on love, art and commitment, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest art events in modern history, Marina Abramovic's The Artist is Present.'This is a weirdly beautiful book.' David Walsh founder and curator, MONA'Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.' Stella Adler'Art will wake you up. Art will break your heart. There will be glorious days. If you want eternity you must be fearless.' From The Museum of Modern LoveShe watched as the final hours of The Artist is Present passed by, sitter after sitter in a gaze with the woman across the table. Jane felt she had witnessed a thing of inexplicable beauty among humans who had been drawn to this art and had found the reflection of a great mystery. What are we? How should we live?If this was a dream, then he wanted to know when it would end. Maybe it would end if he went to see Lydia. But it was the one thing he was not allowed to do.Arky Levin is a film composer in New York separated from his wife, who has asked him to keep one devastating promise. One day he finds his way to The Atrium at MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist is Present. The performance continues for seventy-five days and, as it unfolds, so does Arky. As he watches and meets other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.This dazzlingly original novel asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love and finds a way to answer them....

Title : The Museum of Modern Love
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781760291860
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 296 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Museum of Modern Love Reviews

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-03-07 11:05

    Utterly fascinating. I love art, all forms, all ideas, and whenever I encounter a piece of artwork I like, I try to envision what the artist was thinking as he created. Oftentimes will find myself reading up on the artist, trying to understand. Marina Abromovic is a controversial figure in the art world, her live art has certainly drawn attention. Her expose at the MOMA in 2010, the artist is present, Drew some of the largest crowds ever at that museum. A simple table, two chairs, Marina sitting completely still, inviting whomever wished to sit next to her and gaze into her eyes, for however long they wished. Over 1500 would take the challenge, over 850,000 watched, some visiting day after day simply to watch. Caught up in they knew not what. Curiousity, energy, many marveling how she could do this for almost three months. This is the story of that performance, but also of some of those who sat with or, and some who just watched. It is the background of Marina, some of her previous and often dangerous performances. Her life in the former country, Yugoslavia and even the thoughts of her mother, who is an outwordly presence floating around the exhibit. It is about a woman who pushes boundaries, and why she goes to such lengths. I have since researched more extensive background on this artist and she has many different segments on you tube. It is incredibly well written and wonderfully presented.Strange and maybe brilliant at the same time, I have never read anything quite like this. This novel, also recently won the Stella Prize. Thanks to my Goodreads friend Lesley who pointed this out to me.

  • Carolyn
    2019-03-19 12:51

    I'm not at all artistic and don't always understand art, in particular performance art, so it was with some trepidation I opened this book not realising what a treat I was in for. I had never heard of the famous performance artist Marina Abramović and her 3 month performance called 'The Artist is Present' at MoMA in New York where she sat absolutely still for 7 hours/day and invited members of the public to sit opposite her and gaze into her in the eyes. No touching or movement or speaking was allowed and people could sit for as short or as long a time as they wanted. People found it profoundly moving and many came back several times, queuing up for the opportunity to look at Marina. Over 1500 people participated, including several celebrities, with a photographer capturing each persons gaze and posting the photos on line. Heather Rose has used the exhibition for the background to her fictional tale of ordinary people who attended and were affected by the performance. Arky Levin is the central character, a composer of film scores who is suffering from grief and separation from his wife who is terminally ill and has shut herself away from him. He has been struggling to compose since she left him and becomes obsessed in spending days at Marina's performance watching other people reactions to sitting with her. There is a lovely companionship that builds up in the audience of people who find themselves drawn to come back time and time again. Arky meets Brittika, the PhD student from Amsterdam writing her thesis on Marina's art and Jane, an art teacher on holiday from Georgia, mourning the recent loss of her beloved husband Karl, who is equally fascinated by the performance and soon ditches her plans to visit all the Art galleries in New York and return to the MoMA day after day. Parts of the book are profoundly moving, such as the descriptions of the responses people feel from gazing at Marina: Levin thought that Abramović was definitely encouraging the young woman in some way, using her gaze, and the young woman sat up. Her shoulders straightened. Her head lifted. Her complexion seemed to glow. It was as if the girl knew, wholly, without any artifice, for the first time in her life, that she was beautiful.After the sitting, Jane says to the girl "You looked as if you were growing right out of yourself, becoming this strong, courageous thing" The girl stared at Jane and her eyes filled with tears."Really?" she said. "That's exactly how it felt"As Arky watches people come to gaze at Marina, he reflects on his life, not only about what it is to love and be loved and to mourn for the one you have lost but also what it is to be an artist and to live a creative life: You would be amazed how rare it is for artists to feel moments of true satisfaction. When they're inside their craft, inside colour or movement or sound, words or clay or pictures or dance, when they submit to the art, that is when they know two things - the void that is life and the pull that is death. The grand and the hollow. The best reflects that. To be such harbingers of truth is not without its cost. It's no easy task to balance a sense of irrelevance with the longing for glory, the abyss with the applause."This is a beautiful, thoughtful and moving book. Through following Arky and Jane's journey through Marina's performance and their return to their lives changed and enriched, I feel I have a better understanding now of performance art and how it can be used to move and connect people. With it's reflections on life and death, love and grief this is also a book that I feel I will be thinking about for some time to come.

  • Vanessa
    2019-03-10 05:54

    One of the characters asks...How do you define art? How do you answer that simply? To me it's something that is hard to pinpoint it's a feeling, it can bring joy, can cause confusion, it's pain, it's unadulterated happiness, it's an expression a way to connect with an audience it adds colour to dullness and makes people think, question and to look around the world with a different perspective. I love that it means something different to each individual, it's not uniform.As the author states this is a strange hybrid of fact and fiction and I loved so much venturing into this weird and wonderful world of the artist Marina Abramović. This book took me right inside New York during the 2010 'The Artist Is Present' exhibition at MoMA. I was completely enthralled and transfixed and have really discovered a new appreciation for this form of artistic expression of pushing boundaries and daring to confront and provoke, it's definitely not your run of the mill art exhibit, the novel itself is a work of art. I really enjoyed the unique telling of this story. So interested I'm eager to learn more post reading. I was mesmerised and I wanted to wholly submerge myself in this book. Once fully immersed I could not put this book down!! A real treat and surprise as I knew nothing about the story prior to picking up this book. 5 brilliant elated stars.

  • Bianca
    2019-03-15 13:09

    4.5 starsI wanted to read The Museum of Modern Love since it came out a couple of years ago. I finally got my hands on it, as I anticipate seeing Heather Rose this weekend at the Perth Writers Festival.I'm not the biggest fan of books that bend the line of non-fiction with fiction. I am a huge art lover and I find Marina Abramovic fascinating, intriguing and quite extraordinary. The first time I came across Abramovic's name was by reading an article about her performance piece Rhythm 0 (1974). My jaw dropped to the floor. Anyway, back to the book.I've read this cover to cover including the preface and the acknowledgements. Most of the names have been changed, with a few exceptions: Abramovic, Ulay (one of her former husbands) and a couple more. The story centres around Abramovic's The Artist is Present 75 days long event that took place at MOMA in 2010.Rose weaved beautifully this real artist's story and her art exhibition with the lives of other characters. One of those characters is Arky Levin, an ageing New York music composer, who finds himself shunned away by his dying wife. Uninspired and aimless, he finds himself at MOMA, where he’s reluctantly mesmerized by what he sees inside the square, where Abramovic sits for hours on end having eye contact with whoever sits on the opposite chair. No words are exchanged, just eye-contact. Some people can only seat for a few minutes, others for half an hour or longer. As time goes by, Levin recognizes some of the faces in the crowd, people who come back again and again to see this extraordinary event. He also makes the acquaintance of a recent widow, an art teacher from Kansas. Together they discuss what makes something art, what is its role in society. Both contemplate their own relationship with art and with their life partners. Another important character in this novel is the ghost of Dina Abramovic, Marina’s mother, who was a WWII hero and a very strict parent. Through her, we hear some details about Marina’s childhood and some thoughts on the former Yugoslavia. Those of you who, like me, are not into ghosts and other such apparitions, need not worry, as it’s not over-done, it just adds some context to what and who made Abramovic. Obviously, one has to remember this is a fictionalised account, so we don’t know the truths. I personally plan to read much more on Abramovic and I’m going to watch the documentary The Artist is Present very soon ( of you who are somewhat reluctant to read a book about a performance artist because you feel you don’t get it or know much about it, let me assure you that this book is not highbrow in any way – it’s incredibly accessible and very readable, while managing to inform and transport us into an artist’s mind and also managing to convey the importance of art and artists even when their art is not everyone’s piece of cake. Highly recommendedThis goes towards the Aussie Author 2018 Challenge on

  • Paul Lockman
    2019-02-18 06:20

    This is only the second novel I have read in 2017 but I knew within a few pages of starting it that it was likely to be one my favourites for the year. I could have finished it in a day but deliberately paced myself and took nearly a week as I wanted to prolong the enjoyment. I am not an art enthusiast so the fact that the novel primarily revolves around a real life artist Marina Abramovic and her ‘exhibition’ “The Artist is Present” in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and has fictional characters such as an art teacher Jane and an art critic Healayas, did not matter at all. The novel is written beautifully and has such poignant and insightful observations and meditations on relationships, love, loss, grief, guilt, mourning, caring for frail loved ones and life in general. I have copied just a couple of paragraphs below to give you an idea of her writing. Highly recommended.p.4 ‘The pavements convey people and dogs, the subway rumbles and the yellow cabs honk day and night. As in previous decades, people are coming to terms with the folly of their investments and the ineptitude of their government. Wages are low, as are the waistbands of jeans. Thin is fashionable but fat is normal. Living is expensive, and being ill is the most costly business of all. There is a feeling that a chaos of climate, currency, creed and cohabitation is looming in the world. On an individual basis, most people still want to look good and smell nice, have friends, be comfortable, make money, feel love, enjoy sex and not die before their time’.p.16 Jane is mourning the loss of her partner Karl…’What was the space beyond? Jane wondered. What did the rush of air between life and death taste of? Did crashing to the ground at velocity move you deeper, faster into death than simply dying in your sleep? And if you were under the influence of morphine did you go whole or did you depart in pieces, leaving fragments of yourself floating about in the room? She had wondered a lot about that after Karl’s death. How could she ensure all his good parts went with him? Little bits of him seemed to remain. In her head she said his name over and over, as if making up for the fact that she rarely said it aloud any more. She missed him achingly, gapingly, excruciatingly. Her body hadn’t regulated itself to solitude…’

  • Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
    2019-02-22 11:51

    *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.comIn 2010 a unique moving art performance titled ‘The Artist is Present’ was performed by Marina Abramovic at MoMA in New York for 75 days straight. This unique modern art experience is the driving force behind the story The Museum of Modern Love.The Museum of Modern Love is Heather Rose’s reimagining of the highly acclaimed moving art performance, staged at the infamous MoMA in New York, performed by artist Marina Abramovic. More than just a commentary on the continual three month performance, this novel delves further than imagined and provides an insight into the members of the public that came to partake in this performance. Some we learn simply observed and sat with Marina Abramovic. While others were irrevocably changed by their exchange with Marina. One of these main patrons is Arky Levin, a film composer. Arky is separated from his wife Lydia but we learn she has requested one last shocking promise. Arky is drawn to the exhibition piece, The Artist is Present. Slowly the performance gets under Arky’s skin, as he watches and comes into contact with the other patrons drawn to this unique exhibit. Eventually, The Artist is Present offers Arky more than he ever could have bargained for. It gives him a purpose, direction and a future, all rolled into one.It is easy to see why The Museum of Modern Love was awarded the highly coveted 2017 Stella Prize. This is a special and a one-of-a-kind novel. From the very opening of the novel, the reader is thrust into an active role, where they are able to engage in a process of self examination. Rose puts the spotlight on life, art and human nature. These are big questions but when a book challenges you to do this from the outset and continues until the close of the novel, it is something exceptional. This is the type of novel you want to savour over, it demands to be read in a slower fashion, it is impossible to race through The Museum of Modern Love. Rather, it is best to accept the pace of the novel and submit to its ability to whisk you away nonchalantly.Although I am appreciative of the arts, I can’t say my knowledge of the moving arts is very extensive. Hence, Marina Abramovic and her performance The Artist is Present has flown under the radar for me sadly, until the brilliant Australian novelist, Heather Rose brought my attention to this performance, through her prize winning novel. This aspect of the novel, which plays a significant role in moving the narrative forward, has worked to ignite my interest in Marina Abramovic’s work, MoMA and the sector of moving arts as a whole. I loved the way this performance gently shapes the novel, but it is never truly reliant on it as the basis of the narrative. Rather, the wonderful and eclectic mix of likeable characters work to fill this area.Heather Rose’s characters are sculpted with a fine hand. Arky Levin is a gentle soul that I genuinely enjoyed spending time with as the novel progressed. The evolution of his character is such as joy to read. He is supported by a bevy of characters that move in and out of the narrative, who offer the reader a range of emotions to experience from sorrow to hope. Some linger longer than others, such as Jane, but all are terrible endearing. Rose deftly balances a number of character perspectives in The Museum of Modern Love. It is never sake of being overloaded by any means by the various characters. Instead, I found myself completely fascinated by the range of responses to the exhibit piece, The Artist is Present, which is perhaps indicative of human nature. Rose really has her finger on the pulse in this aspect of her moving and introspective narrative.Rose is a rare talent and an accomplished storyteller that I am glad to have been introduced to through my reading of The Museum of Modern Love. This is a novel that is grounded in the arts, with a mesmerising backdrop of one of the most fascinating exhibits staged in modern moving art. It makes us feel comfortable enough to examine fundamental aspects in our daily lives and the things that matter; connection, the value of life, love, hope and humanity. One for literary fiction fiends and for fans of the arts.

  • Anna Spargo-Ryan
    2019-02-20 05:52

    I liked this a lot. I'm a bit amazed it was written by an Australian -- something about it calls up the deep Americanness of authors like Franzen and Safran Foer. The white-privilegedness is probably part of that. These are mostly people who can afford to spend their time rubbing shoulders with celebrities at an art installation instead of going to work or being responsible for anyone else. That doesn't make the story any less interesting (not least because Marina Abramovic herself is such an interesting woman), but even as a middle-class white person it was a barrier to my falling for it completely. I mean, I really felt for Arky, whose wife is very unwell, but at the same time I thought, shit man, suck it up! stop wallowing! be proactive! When compared to some of the other books in the Stella shortlist (especially The Hate Race and An Isolated Incident), this (and Poum and Alexandre) is almost jarring in its lack of acknowledgement of this privilege. Beautifully written.

  • Jaclyn Crupi
    2019-03-11 05:06

    I think it's easy for novels about ideas, art and artists to feel pretentious but Heather Rose manages to avoid that and she does it by delivering characters who feel so very real. Based around Abramovic's three-month long performance piece at MoMA, The Artist is Present, this book follows various people who visited or were involved in the piece. Full disclosure: I'm a huge Abramovic fan and may have stalked her in Geneva for a time (she smiled at me) so I was a little nervous going in but I needn't have been. Heather Rose has written an absolute gem of a novel. My only criticism is the narrator – it just didn't always work and I desperately wanted to make some tweaks and edits. I also wished the book focused more on Jane and Levin but I can forgive it that and understand that Rose wanted a broader scope. It's a hard book to write about (always a good sign) and one I know I will be thinking about for a long time. I absolutely loved it!

  • Sarah
    2019-02-26 10:59

    I'm not even going to try and write a proper review of this, because I won't be able to do it justice. Such a unique premise - a novel following a handful of people whose lives become linked through (the real life exhibition) Marina Abramovic's "The Artist is Present" at MOMA in New York. The story explores art, love, life among many other things and is fantastic in every way. Just go and read it.

  • Heather
    2019-02-20 09:17

    Approximately 15 pages into The Museum of Modern Love, I decided that it was a contender for my favourite new release of the year. Two pages later I became concerned that if I kept on reading that it would take a turn for the worse and I’d end up hating it; I contemplated putting it down and never picking it up again because it just started out that good. Thankfully I didn’t stop reading, it didn’t take a turn for the worse, and it’s still a contender for my favourite new release of the year.I found it to be a book of contrasts: life and death; hope and despair; love and the loss of it; and moving through these things and tying it all together, sound and silence. The sound comes from Arky Levin, a composer who’s suffering from a lack of inspiration professionally, and who's personal life has been touched by tragedy. He’s an odd sort of character with the ability to weave so much life into his music, yet seem to have no ability to fully partake in the real life that happens around him - and it does very much happen around him.The silence comes from the artist, Marina Abramovic. As she sits at a table in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, unspeaking and barely moving, she provides an interesting counterpoint to Arky. Because despite her silence - or perhaps because of it - she is in the thick of life. Through her silent art she connects with the people who visit the exhibition and I guess in some way this is why so many people come to see her and sit with her; she allows them to make a connection with another human being without having to say a word and without expectations. And I think in this world full of technology and expectation, it’s becoming harder to make that silent connection.I found the narrator of the book to be unique and wonderful. While it was never explicitly stated who the narrator was, just the idea of who it might have been was enough for me, and there were certainly enough hints to confirm my suspicions. I’d tell you, but I feel like that might take away from the wonder of it somehow. In any case, I thought it was a really clever perspective from which to narrate and added just a little bit of magic.I can’t really pinpoint why I loved The Museum of Modern Love so much. I don’t think it’s a novel that has any one thing that stands out above everything else; all the individual parts just fit together so beautifully to make a novel that’s both thoughtful and moving, without being over the top. It didn’t leave me elated and it didn’t leave me curled up in bed weeping. But I hugged it when I finished because it gave me that feeling - the one we readers sometimes feel at the conclusion of a book, but can’t quite put into words. It’s about so many things: relationships, life, and art; but it’s also about how these things work together. In their early stages, relationships are like blank canvases that we build our lives on, and the life we create on that canvas changes every day.Many thanks to Allen & Unwin for providing me with an advance copy.

  • Philippa
    2019-03-20 05:58

    I'm already reading it again.Full review online at

  • Calzean
    2019-02-18 05:02

    Normally books about art and artists lose me. Not this time. The author centres her story around Marina Abramovic's 75 day long performance piece at MoMA. Her central character is Arky Levin, a successful composer whose wife has made him make a promise he does not want to keep.There are a few other characters dealing with their own issues but it is all about Marina, her art and how it impacts on people.It is a strange book with a ghost who narrates certain chapters, reflections on Yugoslavia and medical conditions that can't be pronounced. Arky has lived a good life; in some ways he has been spoilt and lucky. His insecurities and indecisiveness are often in stark contrast to Marina's resilience, his wife's strength and with the other women in this story.

  • Zena
    2019-03-01 11:05

    This book is based on Marina Abramovic who is a performance artist. Her piece "The artist is present" involved her sitting in a chair for 75 days and people sitting across from her. She didn't move, pee, eat, scratch, nothing. People from all around the world lined up and waited for hours just to get the chance to sit across from Abramovic. Some people cried, others were deeply moved and I was incredibly confused. This whole thing reminded me of the fable about the king who walks around naked and everyone admires his "invisible" clothes that you can only see if you're great and fabulous and then a child yells "hey he's naked!" and everyone wakes up and starts laughing and slapping their knees saying "oh look...haha...he is naked!!". The only difference with "The artist is present" is that there was no child to point out the ridiculousness of this "art" and so, fully functioning adults chose to voluntarily sit opposite a motionless women and rave about how "moving" the experience is. Why are human beings so dumb!!!!????!!! Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm not educated enough to understand "performance art". To quote Wikipedia:"[Abramovic's] work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind."What the fuck does that even mean? She's done a bunch of other stuff too. Like masturbate for an audience, provide various utensils for random people to use on her (knife, loaded gun, etc), she cut herself with a star, her and her partner breathed into each others mouths until they passed out from oxygen deprivation. It's ok if you don't understand's ART!!!!! To be more specific, it's PERFORMANCE ART!! This book revolved around "The artist is present" and incorporated a few different characters. We get snippets into their lives and some emotional crap about how art and life are connected blah blah yawn yawn. I don't know this was just a lot of bullshit for me. I don't think Abramovic is an "artist" and I don't think any of her work is of value to society. As for the book itself, it was ok. It's well written, the characters are interesting but their story lines are incomplete. You only gets small segments of their story and then a bunch of "art is great, art is blah blah blah". Don't get me wrong, I am not discrediting art nor it's value. I'm just saying that I don't think Abramovic's work is art and so a lot of the authors babbling about how great Abramovic is just didn't do it for me. Rose also consistently tried to connect all the characters problems to Abramovic and her various work. I personally think Abramovic is crazy and attention seeking and whacks the word ART onto everything she does to justify it. The book fell flat in a lot of ways. If we were given less of Abramovic and more of the characters I would have enjoyed it way more because they actually had interesting stories. The writing was also really beautiful at some points. However, I don't think this was deserving of the Stella prize. If you're super duper into "performance art" and Abramovic's work you may enjoy this but for me I just got bored and annoyed.

  • Kimbofo
    2019-03-14 07:16

    What is art, and what is its purpose? These are the questions posed in The Museum of Modern Love, a fascinating book that blends fact with fiction, by Heather Rose.In this highly original novel, Rose takes a real life event and peoples it with interesting fictional characters who interact with a particular work of art, are changed by it and come away from it having learned something of themselves and of others.To read my review in full, please visit my blog.

  • Julie Holmes
    2019-02-20 09:06

    LOVED THIS. So many beautiful and pertinent comments on what it is to be an artist. I felt part of something bigger, that i'm not alone in this hard and challenging life.

  • Zora
    2019-03-13 08:03

    Well that was a much richer reading experience than I was expecting. The biggest surprise was that the premise actually worked, apart from the unnecessary but mercifully brief pontifications from the Muse. Heather Rose gave me a fresh appreciation of Marina Abramovic, an artist I have mixed feelings about, but even more so she sucked me in with the constellation of characters that swirled around her, drawn to an exhibition that is here reclaimed as a bona fide work of art, rather than the populist one note blockbuster it sometimes appeared from afar. Genuinely inspired and inspiring.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-20 11:52

    When I first opened the pages of this book at bedtime, I saw that I had to make a decision. The author explains that the novel is a hybrid of fact and fiction and some of the characters are, by permission, based on real living people. One of these, and central to the story, is performance artist Marina Abramović, but although her name was vaguely familiar I could not remember why. To be honest, although I look at and often enjoy contemporary art, I would be hard pressed to name any living contemporary artist apart from Anish Kapoor (and that’s only because we have dined out on our impressions of his bizarre incomprehensible red wax installations at the Guggenheim in Bilbao). I have only ever once seen any performance art: at the Melbourne Festival some years ago where the audience was invited to ‘visit’ and make conversation with silent and immobile patients decked out in ghostly white. It was quite unnerving, and obviously memorable, but I have no idea whose work it was.Well, I decided not to explore online to find out about Abramović. I wanted to see whether the book worked for people like me, interested in but not knowledgeable about contemporary art, with a dash of scepticism thrown in for good measure. *chuckle* Would the book work without the aid of Google?Well, it does, The Museum of Modern Love works for me.There is a lot to think about in this novel, which explores the nature of art by reference to Abramović’s performance of ‘The Artist is Present’ in New York. This performance involved Abramović sitting immobile and silent in a gallery at MOMA (the Museum of Modern Art) each day for 75 days, while members of the public queued up to sit in silence and gaze into her eyes. They made a movie about this in 2012, and the trailer features Abramović saying that she is most often asked ‘why is this art?’ Heather Rose answers this question by showing how her characters, observing or participating in this performance, project onto Abramović their thoughts, memories, quandaries and so on. It is a different way of thinking about art and what it’s ‘for’.But The Museum of Modern Love is not just cerebral pondering about the nature of art.To read the rest of my review please visit

  • Kate
    2019-03-17 11:11

    Some thoughts about The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose –01. This is easily one of the most original stories I’ve read. Ever.02. At first I thought some of the writing was a little twee. Then I changed my mind – it’s lovely.“When he was sixteen, his mother died. What do women who have drunk chamomile tea each night before bed, believed in invisible forces and played Chopin études before breakfast die of? A falling tree in a storm.”03. This is art-lit but at a whole new level. It’s about performance, music, architecture, noise, silence, what constitutes art, what constitutes meaning, what evokes a reaction.“I think art saves people all the time.”04. This book is enhanced by some knowledge of Marina Abramovic’s vast body of work. 05. There are so many themes in this book and Rose has pulled off the near impossible – it seems simple but it is in fact an incredibly complex story about love, grief, bravery and understanding what matters.“…if I dare be so bold as to give advice – which I know men always hate – you should try with everything you have. I just hate seeing love go to waste.”06. It might win the Stella Prize.4.5/5 I’ll be thinking about this book for quite some time.

  • Sharon Jarvis
    2019-02-24 05:12

    Having just finished reading The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose I am sitting here pondering about what I think and probably more importantly how I feel about this novel. It has an unusual setting of a live art exhibition in New York where the performer Marina Abramovic sits for seventy-five days during the and people come and sit opposite her. Although Marina is the centre piece there is also Archy Swann who is a music composer for films and his wife Lydia becomes seriously ill. The novel explores the meaning of life and death, the meaning of art in all its forms, relationships and their complexities. But I guess I feel it is mostly about why we should seek truth and be honest with and about oneself. It is a story that allows a lot of room for inner reflection and contemplation. What is right? Do we do what others ask of us or should we be true to what we really want?The lives of many other people as well as Archy and Lydia are explored in this story. One particular one that stood out for me was Jane, who has come to the performance and it leads to life changing decisions for her. But there are many other as well.."A really creative novel that also challenges us in our thoughts and feelings with a lot to reflect upon!Thank you to Goodreads and publisher Allen and Unwin for an ARC copy to read and review.

  • Lesley Moseley
    2019-02-20 12:51

    I was certainly mesmerised!! Over the years I have heard about the central person, Marina and her actual artistic 'exhibitions'... (installations?).. This book is such an amazing marriage of fact and fiction; I felt that ALL the people were in fact, real. Made me check out more about Marina Abramovic's : The Artist is Present. Fascinating. Hopeful idea that learning to 'get still', can clarify tangled emotions and give courage to make difficult decisions. Loved it.

  • Nicole
    2019-02-28 10:55

    I didn't see this coming...but this book has knocked Ray Bradbury's, Dandelion Wine, off the number one best book ever position. Inarguably THE BEST book I have ever read! I had not known anything about Marina Abramovic, apart from her being an artist. Before I started reading I did some background research about her and was intrigued. This book chose me for a couple of reasons: 1- I had read a book by this author, The Butterfly Man, some years ago, as I had been interested in the disappearance of Lord Lucan. 2 - David Walsh, founder and curator of MONA, endorsed this book. I became interested in David Walsh several years ago when he commissioned Patrick Hall's work (When My Heart Stops Beating) for MONA. I wanted to attend MONA to see the work, however was only able to view it online (or documentary maybe). I have been considering the title - When My Heart Stops Beating - for my memoir ever since. This story is based on Abramovic's performance, The Artist is Present. The story is engaging, the writing is brilliant. I felt a connection to every single character, even those with minor appearances in the story. Danica Abramovic's appearance was very Faulkner-ian...loved it! I also enjoyed Pillow-Marina. From start to finish, this book had me in tears...most of the time I didn't even realise there were tears until the chapter ended and I closed the book to pause and reflect on what I had read. I have never been so moved and touched by a book. A work of art and love. Pure joy to read. I will now buy Walk Through Walls, Abramovic's memoir. Final rating for this book 10/5.

  • Tracey
    2019-03-14 10:00

    Bliss. Art & Life. Beautiful book.

  • Susie Anderson
    2019-02-24 09:08

    immediately after finishing it seemed like this book was the book to send me completely head over heels for Abramovic and her work. but having let the book sink in for a week, I am still feeling the effect of the complicated and under developed storylines. it was an interesting approach, a good concept to follow the lives of those who were enraptured by her performance 'the artist is present'. sure, try to untangle the reason why sharing eye contact became an incredibly profound and moving act by inventing back stories for the performance viewers. but did it need to have a muse-figure named for Abramovic's mother? I found the chapters that attempted this lofty voice offputting and skippable. from a professional perspective I appreciated the delving into the artist's practice and situating the retrospective and resultant performance/s at the MoMA, but couldn't Rose have been satiated writing a more focused biography of Abramovic? maybe the novel should have been longer: perhaps the contained and temporary nature of the artwork gave it the intense, immediate feeling that left me feeling that something was underdeveloped. anyway it has made me a better and more provocative conversationalist, plus has revealed that Carrie Bradshaw's first date with the Russian in season six of Sex and the City was actually taking the piss out of Marina Abramovic's artwork (the one where she was seated in a loft and unable to leave because the ladders to the ground had rungs made of knives).

  • Kirsten
    2019-02-21 09:21

    This is a brilliant concept, a novel centred around Marina Abramovic's The Artist is Present show and I really wanted to love it but I'm going to have to settle for merely liking it. And I can't really put my finger on why it didn't work for me. I loved the exploration of ideas around art and love and personal history and of life and death. Some passages were quite moving but other parts of the book seemed clunky and awkward. Arky annoyed the hell out of me. That said, it was an absorbing and quite inventive read.

  • Mary D
    2019-03-05 11:11

    So bored reading this book. Very original, one star, at times some lovely, poignant writing, another star. But mostly I zoned out, took days to get back to reading it, felt like I was chewing the pages rather than reading them. Sure it rounded off nicely enough but win the Stella? Really??

  • Trish
    2019-02-18 12:03

    It made me think. It made me feel. It made me cry. I finished it with such an appreciation for Abramovich, Rose and the power of art and literature to give meaning, reveal beauty, and connect us all in this world. Loved it.

  • Brenda Kittelty
    2019-03-08 04:53

    Wow. That's all, wow.

  • Cass Moriarty
    2019-03-17 11:21

    The 2017 The Stella Prize was recently awarded to Heather Rose for her unusual and original work The Museum of Modern Love (Allen & Unwin Books 2016). The story has as its focus, and is inspired by, the performance artist Marina Abramovic, a woman renowned for a lifetime of strange and unsettling representations of art which explore the limitations and strengths of the human body, and the whole question of the role and place of art in relation to life. You may recognise Abramovic for the long walk she and her ex-partner, Ulay, took along the Great Wall of China in order to eventually meet face to face and signify the end of their creative and intimate relationship, or for her performance of interactive art where patrons were supplied with a random collection of objects that could give both pain and pleasure, and invited to use them as they wished on Abramovic’s body, without her giving the least resistance. This said something interesting about our capacity to inflict violence or humiliation on others, particularly on those unable or unwilling to retaliate. But this book centres on Abramovic’s performance The Artist is Present at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where she sits – for 75 days – motionless on a chair, and patrons are invited to sit opposite her and to look into her eyes. Each sitting – or performance – lasts until the guest looks away, and a new person takes their place. The act was immensely popular, with curious people lining up for hours each day to take their turn, and many famous names also wanting to sit with Abramovic. In tandem with this performance in the book is the second narrative, that of Arky Levin, a film composer in New York who has recently separated from his wife under rather odd circumstances; she has asked him to keep a promise that has devastating results for him and their daughter. One day, by chance, he happens upon the Abramovic exhibition, and becomes obsessed with the artist and by understanding what she is attempting to achieve. He meets a random selection of people also fascinated by the exhibition: recently widowed Jane; art critic Healayas Breen; the brightly coloured and vivacious PhD student Brittika van der Sar from Amsterdam. There are other characters, such as Carlos, based on real-life figures (Carlos is modelled on Paco Blancas who sat with Abramovic 21 times), and there are also other actual real-life people – besides the artist herself – such as the photographer Marco Anelli and Abramovic’s assistant, Davide Balliano. For each of these, Heather Rose has constructed a fictional account of their thoughts, actions and motivations in order to tell the story – a highly unusual and one would imagine, rather fraught, process. In this way, Arky Levin attempts to unpack the complicated constrictions and desires surrounding his difficult home circumstances, and the book says something profound about life, love, art and the interrelationships between them. I did not know much about Marina Abramovic, and reading this book prompted me to research a little into her history and past performances. Superficially, her work is incomprehensible – weird and remote and bold. She seemed to me to be self-absorbed, self-indulgent and cold. But as I explored her work further, and continued to read this book, I found myself appreciating the courage of her art, the bravery it must take to confront ideas as she does, and the convoluted way her mind must process human responses and reactions to art and to confronting issues. And I did find myself quite moved by some of her performances. Certainly in the representation in this book, she appears utterly fearless, and completely driven by her desire to create art and to comprehend the dichotomy of its beauty and its ugliness. In tandem with Abramovic, the tale of Arky and his wife Lydia and the terrible dilemma in which they find themselves is a tender love story that questions how far we would go for love and how much we would sacrifice, and that tests the bond of loyalty and faithfulness, pitting personal ambition against intimate union. As the stresses of the 75-day sitting begin to show for Abramovic, Arky Levin has enlightening insights and must make some important decisions. The Museum of Modern Love attempts to interpret and represent the chaotic stillness of Abramovic’s work, and to say something perhaps about all indecipherable art forms. And in doing so, it manages to tell us something about more ordinary, everyday love, and what it means to be committed and authentic.

  • Robyn Mundy
    2019-03-07 11:05

    I was enraptured in these characters adrift and aswirl around the daily performance of artist Marina Abramovic. I was held fast by the author's intelligence and sensitivity, by the subtle, inexplicable meditations on life, love, art, meaning. Bravo, Heather Rose.

  • Mandy
    2019-02-26 06:14

    Performing Arts? More, please.Performance Art? I just don't get it and I am not interested enough to try to appreciate or understand it. I should have listened to Doubting Thomas me in the bookshop when he said "Performance Art, don't buy it!" But, Conceited Book Snob me said "It won the Stella, you should read it" and, as usual, Thomas was right and Smartarse was wrong.Two stars because Heather Rose is clearly a talented writer and I am guessing the Stella judges know much more than me. The two main characters, Arky and Jane (apart from the artist, Marina Abramovic) and well drawn but to base their "moments" on the premise that sitting in front of woman who is prepared to sit silently for 75 days in MOMA, changing the colour of her dress every so often, is simply far too much for this cynical brain. Performance Art is a wanky ego trip for the artist, perfectly illustrated by the long long walk on the Great Wall of China to be dumped by a lover.....What! And, Why would anyone watch it?? The guilt, regret, grief and loneliness mixed with a little thought, that Arky and Jane were feeling would have brought them to their "momentous decisions" anyway, without giving credit to the artist.In the words of our infamous and ex-PM, "fair suck of the sauce bottle" - he couldn't even get that right.