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Jay Z’s Picasso Baby, directed by Mark Romanek

Here’s Mark Romanek’s first music video in a decade or so, a capturing of Jay Z’s recent performance art event at Pace Gallery, where he performed the single “Picasso Baby” for six hours straight. Shot by 25 New Face Jody Lee Lipes (Martha Marcy May Marlene), it features an all-star cast of participatory spectators, including, first and foremost, artist Marina Abramovic, whose own The Artist is Present performance it was clearly inspired by. Others include Judd Apatow, Adam Driver, Jim Jarmusch, Marilyn Minter, Rose Lee Goldberg, Fab Five Freddy, Rosie Perez (dancing!), George Condo, Jemima Kirke, Alan Cumming and Radical Phoenixx, who seems awesome.

There’s pre-song chatter about the role of the venue in defining the work, “energy” and the status of musicians and artists within “bourgeois” culture. Interestingly, one aspect of the event not captured by the video is its duration. In addition to Abramovic’s work, Picasso Baby — the performance art piece, not the song — seems inspired by another recent work, A Lot of Sorrow, by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson and the band, The National. The latter played their song “Sorrow” 105 times for six hours straight at P.S. 1, making repetition and duration transformative elements of a larger piece. Jay Z also played “Picasso Baby” for six hours straight, and while some onlookers undoubtedly dropped in and out, Jay Z was apparently so amazing, the video would have you believe, that tedium was kept at bay for those who endured the entire afternoon. At least it was for art critic Jerry Saltz:

Maybe I was smitten by fame. I stayed for just about the whole six hours, and all I can say is that I don’t think I saw one instance where Jay Z was not totally there, in the moment, working the energy.

Check back next week for a short film by Jamie Stuart capturing the event as well.

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