Based on a real piece of performance art that took place in 2010, the installation that the fictional Arky Levin discovers is inexplicably powerful. Visitors to the Museum of Modern Art sit across a table from the performance artist Marina Abramovic, for as short or long a period of time as they choose. As the performance unfolds over the course of 75 days, so too does Arky. As he bonds with other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.
More than just that rare treat, a book that requires something of the reader – it is a book that painstakingly prepares you for its own requirements ... bold ... a novel with artistic sensibility at its core ... Abramovic polarises people, but even if you're not a fan or are unfamiliar with her work, the observations on life and art that come about in The Museum of Modern Love, as a result of reflecting on her work, are profound.
Even if you've never cottoned to Abramovic's transgressive, self-flagellating body of work and regard the lengths she has gone in her explorations of physical endurance and the relationship between the artist and her audience as more stunt than art, Rose's passionate take on it opens readers up to a fresh look. That said, the knife slashes, razor blades, and Great Wall of China trek make for sensational reading, but The Museum of Modern Love wouldn't work if Rose's characters and their stories weren't as compelling as her appreciative assessment of this controversial artist whose 'metier [is] to dance on the edge of madness, to vault over pain into the solace of disintegration' ... Rose clearly believes in the redemptive, transformative power of art for artist and audience, writer and reader.
... Rose succeeds in bringing this cultural moment in time to life ... One of the book’s narrators is an all-seeing, artistic guardian angel, and there are moments in The Museum of Modern Love that felt a little too much like that sappy holiday favorite 'It’s a Wonderful Life' for me. Still, the way that Rose’s lonely characters are transformed when sitting with Abramovic ends up being magical and wholly absorbing.