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.
She 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 Swann 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.
Review by Ben Hunter
In a list dominated by powerful works of non-fiction, Heather Rose has taken out the 2017 Stella Prize for her wonderfully peculiar novel, The Museum of Modern Love.
Rose uses her fiction to look at the life-threatening struggle of artist Marina Abramovic, and her gruelling 75-day performance piece, The Artist is Present, which took the art world by storm. This book is possibly as strange and brilliant as the artwork itself.
Rose traces her narrative against the unravelling world of Arky Levin - a man set adrift between his music, his family and himself - and invests deeply in the lives of each of her characters - school teachers, writers, photographers, butchers, and the almost mythical artist herself.
No stone is left unturned in this relentless interrogation of art's purpose in our lives. A moving book that invites the reader to revel and re-evaluate.
About the Author
The Museum of Modern Love is Heather Rose's 7th novel. Her novels span adult literary fiction, children's literature, fantasy/sci-fi and crime. Heather's previous novels are White Heart (1999), The Butterfly Man (2005) and The River Wife (2009). Heather also writes the acclaimed Tuesday McGillycuddy series for children (written under the pen-name of Angelica Banks with fellow-author Danielle Wood and published internationally). The series is Finding Serendipity (2013) A Week Without Tuesday (2015) and Blueberry Pancakes Forever (2016).
Heather won the Davitt Award in 2006 and her work has been shortlisted for the Nita B Kibble Award and the Aurealis Awards, and longlisted for the IMPAC Awards. She is also a recipient of the international Eleanor Dark Fellowship.
Heather was the inaugural Writer in Residence at The Museum of Old and New Art (MoNA) in Hobart 2012-13 where she did much of the research for The Museum of Modern Love. Heather is currently studying Fine Arts at UTAS.