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ICONOCLASTS season premiere: James Franco + Marina Abramović

ICONOCLASTS James Franco and Marina Abramovic

The sixth season of the innovative, inspiring ICONOCLASTS — Sundance Channel’s longest-running series — premieres tonight at 8P. ICONOCLASTS is a chance for artists, entrepreneurs, designers, filmmakers and others to spend time with someone from another field who is changing the world around us and how we see ourselves. Tonight, we’ll get to listen in on a conversation between Oscar-nominated actor James Franco and legendary performance artist Marina Abramović.

After guiding him through the Marina Abramović Method to help him relax, the artist turns Franco into a living sculpture, a “demi-god,” smearing him with sticky stuff and covering him with gold leaf. It’s a sight to behold:

Of course, Franco himself is also an artist. Though he is best-known for his roles in movies like 127 HOURS, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS and the SPIDER-MAN trilogy — as well as series like Freaks and Geeks and the Golden Globe-winning TV movie James Dean — Franco studied at the famed Rhode Island School of Design (you’ll get to see some of his provocative thesis project in tonight’s episode). That’s in addition to his MFA in writing from Columbia and his book of stories, Palo Alto. Oh, and the PhD in English he’s working on at Yale. There’s a lot more to him than meets the eye.

For her part, Abramović has been creating a revolutionary approach to performance art for more than four decades. “The first time I met her,” Franco shares in tonight’s episode, “I said, ‘Hey, we studied you in my art class.’ ” In 2010, her career retrospective “The Artist Is Present” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York included images and reproductions of many of her pieces; the highlight was Abramović herself — who was, in fact, present for 736 silent hours in which the public could come and sit opposite her (I went; it was amazing how much happened without anything actually happening).

Abramović is opening an institute to teach people about performance art in Hudson, New York; her goal is nothing less than “to change the world.”

Sundance Channel and Grey Goose Entertainment present ICONOCLASTS every Monday at 8P.