In 2010 at MoMA, Abramović engaged in an extended performance called, The Artist Is Present. The work was inspired by her belief that stretching the length of a performance beyond expectations serves to alter our perception of time and foster a deeper engagement in the experience. Seated silently at a wooden table across from an empty chair, she waited as people took turns sitting in the chair and locking eyes with her. Over the course of nearly three months, for eight hours a day, she met the gaze of 1,000 strangers, many of whom were moved to tears.
“Nobody could imagine…that anybody would take time to sit and just engage in mutual gaze with me,” Abramović explained. In fact, the chair was always occupied, and there were continuous lines of people waiting to sit in it. “It was [a] complete surprise…this enormous need of humans to actually have contact.”