Marina Abramovic sits in her long, magnificent red dress at the plain wooden table as a tall man walks over to sit in front of her. As the two lock eyes, the connection between them is electric, and Marina reaches out to touch him. There is so much emotion behind their eyes, and I can feel it, even through the screen. However, I’ve seen this video before. I know that the man is Abramovic’s former lover and collaborator, Ulay. I also know that even though it appears that Ulay’s appearance was a surprise to Abramovic, she saw him earlier that day. I could tell you all about the exhibit and Abramovic’s previous pieces, as well. I’ve seen this video before, but never on Tik Tok.
The same video went viral on Youtube a few years ago, and it has now amassed over 1.2 million views, 329.9K likes, 2653 comments, and 4516 shares on Tik Tok. The comments contain a variety of sentiments, but there are also an overwhelming number of comments asking the same questions: What is this? Who are they?
Other users are briefly answering within the character limits of the Tik Tok comments, but many are encouraging those who are confused and/or interested to do their own research into Abramovic’s piece and larger body of work. The hashtag #marinaabramovic on Tik Tok has over 8.6 million views and videos in several different languages from creators all over the world. The videos range from explanations about her different pieces to aesthetic edits of her romance with Ulay. The younger generations are discovering the work of Marina Abramovic! And Abramovic herself may have no idea.
Many of these Tik Toks are a part of a larger category of Tik Toks known as “Art History Tik Tok.” #Arthistory on Tik Tok currently has over 235.8 million views. Under this hashtag viewers can find videos pertaining to just about anything related to art, including video explanations of paintings to clips about color theory to recordings of performance art, like Abramovic’s. Art History Tik Tok is involving a younger audience in art and art history, a world which may have seemed unapproachable to many who don’t have access to museums or don’t know where to find information about artists. The accessibility of Tik Tok is doing wonders in terms of reaching a larger audience with art education. The Tik Tok algorithm is set up to show viewers videos that they should be interested in, which is how Art History Tik Tok found me in the first place! Tons of young artists are learning more about art because of Tik Tok, and Tik Tok is growing the art community and building a captive audience!
I can’t help but wonder, though: what if these artists knew about the potential of Tik Tok? What if Marina Abramovic herself made a Tik Tok and spoke directly to her new, young audience? I think that if well-known artists, like Abramovic, were to get on Tik Tok, their content could be mutually beneficial for both them and their fans! The artists would increase their exposure and grow their fanbase, and the audiences would be able to learn about art directly from the artists, discover new artists, and get to know their favorite artists and works of art. Tik Tok could ensure the legacy of an artist within the next generations. Because Tik Tok is pretty accessible globally, artists could access fan bases that they maybe did not have access to before, and vice versa – people who didn’t have access to certain artists before can access their work through Tik Tok! I think that Tik Tok is an underrated gold mine of potential, especially for the art world, and I hope to see more artists use it as another platform to share their voices.