She’s back! Marina Abramović, a much-publicized performance artist, is at it again, but with a difference. This time, she’s not performing. Instead, she set the stage for the exhibitgoers to perform. (I can’t stand this, but I push on).

You may remember my rant about an Abramović exhibit in 2016 at the Museum of Modern Art in NY where she sat staring at exhibitgoers who took turns sitting and staring back for seven hours a day, six days a week. She called the show “The Artist is Present.”

Missing in action

But she's nowhere to be seen in her latest show called “Gates and Portals” at UK’s contemporary museum known as the Modern Art Oxford.

What’s up with her disappearing act?

The explanation is a doozy. At a press conference, she said that she’s so famous now, her celebrity gets in the way. She wants to let the show speak for itself. So, does it?

Not according to British art critic Jonathan Jones who saw the show. He said that even though Abramović wasn’t in the picture, keeping her out of his head was hard. Why?

Get this: “She’s an extraordinary presence,” he said. “She composes herself with magnetic stillness...” He called her “hypnotic.” Where was this presence on view? He didn’t say. Presumably, at the press conference.

What about the exhibit, Jonathan? It’s no wonder he sings the praises of Abramović’s “magnetism” rather than the show.

“The ideas behind the show are “wafer-thin,” he said.

The show’s idea: Exhibitgoers are led around to step in and out of tall rectangular frames (the gates or portals) to explore what Abramović calls “a heightened awareness and transitional state of being.”

After that, you lie down on a mat. That traipsing through the portals is supposed to be some sort of spiritual journey.

But Jones didn’t see it that way. While on the mat, he said, “It felt like death.”

Not unexpectedly, Abramović considers “Gates and Portals” an important show. The Guardian quotes her saying. “It’s the most minimal and the most radical conceptually I ever made until now.” What does that even mean?

Down on museums

By way of explanation, The Guardian added another quote from Abramović: “Normally, visitors to museums never have any kind of demands made of them; they come, they see the work, they go.”

Speak for yourself, lady.

The museum experience is way more than some passive coming and going. How can she not know that? She lives in New York and surely frequented the Met. What, none of the two million works in the collection ever stopped her, pulled her in, or moved her?

How about John Singer Sargent’s painting “Generalife,” which pictures his sister Emily at her easel? Looking over her shoulder is another female artist, Jane de Glehn.

How could a female artist like Abramović walk past this painting without it demanding her to ask why Sargent titled the picture of his sister making art after a garden in Granada, Spain?

If Abramović had stopped to look, she would have seen the date of Sargent’s painting – 1912 – and understood female artists were not taken seriously back then.

Last year, Abramović told Vogue magazine that she sees herself as a “warrior” because come 2023 the Royal Academy is giving her the first solo show by a woman.

How could she walk past Sargent’s painting of his sister at the easel and not think how lucky she is that she wasn’t an artist in 1912?