In the last few years, it has been difficult to feel connected to art, others and sometimes even ourselves. Numerous lockdowns and a life lived on zoom can have people craving for proper connection.

The Seymour Centre, in association with Sydney Festival will present the world premiere of The Museum of Modern Love, an adaptation of Heather Rose’s Stella Prize-winning Australian novel. The story finds Arky Levin, a New York film composer struggling to live and work in the face of incredible loss.

At MoMA Arky sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist is Present, a performance art piece in which Abramovic sat silent and completely still opposite thousands of museum patrons in the spring on 2010.

Harriet Gordon-Anderson plays Alice Levin, the daughter of the two lead characters, both artists at the top of their game. A child raised in an elite creative community in New York who has chosen to shun the art world and become a doctor.

To Gordon-Anderson, Museum of Modern Love is a story about seeking connectivity, connection and the desire to be seen. “It’s a little strange to think that sitting opposite someone and maintaining eye contact for a period is a radical act, but apparently it is…. Which is what the play is exploring. What is it about us that draws us to something like this?”

Director Tim Jones says: “We began this process in 2018, before COVID. I did not expect it, but the story seems to have become more relevant in the wake of the pandemic.”

Gordon-Anderson agrees, saying: “I think we can all relate to how much of a different form of presence being on zoom with people is or connecting through a screen or through some sort of medium, versus sitting opposite someone. I have a renewed appreciation for the experience of sitting opposite someone and being physically present with them.”

“I think that is something that will really ring out in this production in a way that it might not have been so important or noticeable to audiences three years ago. Now I think it’s something that people will be very aware of.”

The play also touches on the importance of access to art, and the sense of self and community that it can bring to people.

The Museum of Modern Love will be shown at the Seymour Centre from January 22-30. Tickets are available here.