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April 23, 2014 5:53 PM EDT

Marina was someone I studied in my contemporary art history class at UCLA. She had already made her mark with her indelible performance pieces, especially Rhythm 0, which had her presenting an array of items (a rose, a pen, a scalpel, honey, a feather, a gun and a bullet) and allowing the audience to do anything to her body with them. Eventually someone put the bullet in the gun, placed it in her hand and pointed it at her head. The violence of the audience was revealed. In The Artist Is Present, her seminal piece at MOMA, she revealed the sadness of the audience as she sat across from them for nearly three months and absorbed their pain. Marina most powerful is Marina most simple, Marina as Marina. I love the simple Marina, the powerful Marina, when the artist is present within her.

I trust Marina to carve the artist out of her celebrity and use her celebrity to bring what she stands for into the here and now, looking straight into the eyes of all of us, strangers still, but courageous, curious, inspired, creative participants afterward.

Franco, an actor, artist, writer and producer, is currently appearing in Of Mice and Men on Broadway

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