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Picasso Baby

Jay Z "Picasso Baby" (Mark Romanek, dir.)

"I decided that I want to have a work that connects me more with the public, that concentrates … on the interaction between me and the audience.

I want to have a simple table, installed in the center of the atrium, with two chairs on the sides. I will sit on one chair and a square of light from the ceiling will separate me from the public.

Anyone will be free to sit on the other side of the table, on the second chair, staying as long as he/she wants, being fully and uniquely part of the Performance.

I think this work [will] draw a line of continuity in my career."

- Marina Abramovic, artist [in a letter to her curator about her 2010 MoMA show The Artist Is Present]

Director Mark Romanek Talks Jay Z, Marina Abromovic and Picasso Baby

Let's not shit ourselves: The new Jay Z video is an event, regardless of what you feel about the new album, his responsibilies as an artist, or the fact that as an astoundingly rich, well connected, smart, and powerful man he operates in rarefied circles

It premieres on HBO @ 11p tonight, immediately after his appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher. And it's not being called a video: It's a Performance Art Film. 

Director Mark Romanek — who occupies a similar position in the music video world as Jay does in the hip-hop world — talked about the video and its inspirations with Huffington Post

The admitted main influence is performance artist Marina Abromovich and her "one on one" staredown show at MOMA — documented in the HBO film Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present. Romanek says, "What I pitched to Jay was: 'You regularly perform to 60 or 80,000 people at a time. What if you performed for one person at a time? What if it was like Marina's piece?"

And that reminds me of one of the advantages music video, or any music performance captured on video, over the live experience: The ability to focus. To get close. To provide angles and access that's not possible in even the smallest club, and certainly not in stadiums.

The interview is full of great insights, so I recommend you check it in full, but here are some of my fave quotes from the director:

HBO to Premiere Jay Z "Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film" and Releases Preview Clip

That Jay Z video shoot pulls further into focus with a preview of "Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film" that hints the word "art" equally applies to its surrounding words — it's "performance art" and an "art film." 

We'll get to see the whole thing via a big broadcast premiere, but it's not (m)TV, it's HBO — "Picasso Baby" launches exclusively on HBO next Friday, August 2 @ 11pm, immediately after Jay Z's appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher.

Jay-Z Doing "Picasso Baby" for Six Hours In NYC Right Now

Jay-Z is lip-syncing his song "Picasso Baby" for six hours today. Or as it's commonly referred to: He is shooting a music video.

The rapper is at NYC's Pace Gallery today — which has a Picasso connection — doing a marathon shoot for a crowd of fans and celebs.

The stunt is reminiscent of what The National did for "Sorrow" — playing the same song, live, for six hours straight at MOMA PS1 for Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson's cheekily titled show, "A Lot of Sorrow" — but it's already apparent that Jay-Z can take the same basic set-up and turn it into a worldwide, real-time phonenomenon.

Respect.