Ulay and Marina Abramović turned love into a performance


A couple of modern celebrities can be exhausted to catch up. Their appearance and antiques invite considerable attention and scrutiny. As a result, romance is often a retrofit to the spectacle. What is important for the general public is that couples can be seen together. This gives a sense of unity.

If you’re tired of asking me how horny Megan Fox is for Machine Gun Kelly, or if Ye likes to dress up Julia Fox (related to Megan) No), consider paying attention to pairings that are no longer visible to the public. The one that has already broken up. After all, the best lessons about love and romance are well understood in retrospect.

One such couple is Ulay (Frank Uwe Laysiepen) and Marina Abramović. The two performance artists have gained micro-celebrity status in the art world through a 12-year collaboration from 1976 to 1988. Urey died of cancer in 2020 at the age of 76, but 75-year-old Abramovich is still working. My first intriguing was the elaborate end of the relationship, not because of the two artists, but how they decided to split, but romantically I later, they still I was fascinated by the previous works that were made while I was in love and nomadic life like crazy. In a van.

But first, goodbye. It was the basis for their last difficult performance, entitled “Lovers”. In 1988, Urey and Abramovich began at both ends of the Great Wall and trekked on foot for three months to meet somewhere in the center. It took eight years to get permission from the Chinese government to embark on a journey. The original plan was to end the walk with a wedding — a celebration of love. Instead, a pilgrimage of about 6,000 km has become one of the most elaborate separations recorded in modern history.

The two artists are believed to have never spoken again for more than 20 years. Until Urey unexpectedly appeared in one of Abramovich’s 2010 performances at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. If you were on the internet in 2010, you may have encountered a viral footage of their reunion. Two ex-girlfriends are quietly staring at the table. Urey shook her head incredibly, and Abramovich blinked tears before reaching for him. Gestures are incredibly moving to witnesses, but like most viral snippets, the video has reduced the artist’s intense, dramatic and complex relationships into a pleasing brip on the internet.

Urey sued Abramovich in 2015 and won by receiving her € 250,000 worth of royalties for violating a collaborative contract. Abramovich also published a 2016 memoir containing details of Urey’s unfaithfulness in the last years of the relationship, revealing that he had made the translator pregnant during a walk on the Great Wall. Nonetheless, the two finally settled as friends in 2017 and provided commentary on their work and romance for a short documentary. “For her, it was very difficult for her to continue alone,” Urey said of their division. “For me, I couldn’t really think of continuing alone.”

In the work of Artforum in 1983, the couple was described as “Tantral collaborators” and “Karma acquaintances”, recognizing each other as spiritual partners of different bodies. They shared their birthday on November 30th (although Urey was 3 years old) and are similar to each other in personal style and physiognomy, and perhaps most importantly, dedicated to their skills. I was there.

“We really worked on the idea that ego isn’t important and we need to create something called third energy,” Abramovich said in a 2017 documentary. They acted as an artistic unit and refused to attribute the idea to a single individual. And while the couple chose not to have children (Abramovich’s indifference to pregnancy was a turning point in the relationship), art was the thread that united them. The descendants of their performance seemed as rewarding as raising a child.

“We were a couple of men and women. Our urgency had an ideological basis,” Ulay said in an interview with Brooklyn Rail in 2014. “The idea was the unification of men and women, symbolically hermaphrodite … we felt like three. One woman and one man together, 3 Generated what is called the second. “

It’s a shame that the joint heritage of Urey and Abramovich is often overshadowed by the immenseness (and subsequent turmoil) of their final act, which they feel is in conflict with their previous series of work. I am most fascinated by their previous collaborations, “Relation Works” (1976-1979), which explores the duality and addiction inherent in romantic relationships, especially in relation to gender, identity and nature. The series had a serious synergy and a mutual dedication to their new sense of unity. They were learning to love while discovering ways to unite art.

The most memorable “Relation Works” performances often manifested themselves in crude and physical violence (self-harm or violence against others), but some were contemplative and even repetitive. did. Urey and Abramovich said these violent explosions did not reflect their family life.Instead, it was “the opposite of the method [they] We understood each other, lived, and loved each other, “Urey said.

Their first performance, “Relation in Space,” consisted of two artists running and colliding with each other for an hour with their naked bodies. In “light / dark”, the couple sits face-to-face and slaps their partner’s right cheek. They start slowly and accelerate the pace of the slap for 6 minutes. In “AAA-AAA”, they scream face-to-face within a few inches of each other for nearly 10 minutes. Perhaps their most dangerous performance, “Rest Energy,” was seemingly sculptural and calm. Abramovich grabs her bow and Urey knocks her arrow towards her heart. They lean forward and hold the pose for 4 minutes while the microphone broadcasts the sound of the heartbeat.

But it was a “time relationship”, a 17-hour performance where the couple sat back to back with their hair tied, foreseeing the meditation points of their work later. These tableau vivants required great spiritual and physical stamina, intended to fuse their separate self into a complete work of art. Resting for hours at a time was much more difficult than hitting a wall naked for an hour, Urey said.

In the 22 performances “Night Sea Crossing” from 1981 to 1987, the couple sat for 7 hours in 4 days and stared at each other in various situations. Abramovich wrote in his memoirs in preparation for this “abstinence and distance needed for rest time”. It also marked the beginning of a three-year death spiral of relationships. Urey was uncomfortable with their fast-growing fame as artists and could no longer physically withstand long performances. Meanwhile, Abramovich insisted on continuing the work they were doing and refused to settle down to start a family. They both had an affair and began to talk more and more. In Abramovich’s view, they failed because of “the stupidest and most trivial reason-the failure of our family life.” According to her, private life was also part of her work of art.

For those of us who are not world-renowned performance artists, it’s an obvious feeling because family life is all about work. Relationships fail for all sorts of stupid and trivial reasons. Abramovich and Urey may have left a symbolic norm of collaboration, but lack of communication, loss of trust, and different lives, even if it is creatively prosecuted or has a unique karma. vision. Like art, love is a lot of work.

A 2017 short documentary You can read more about the relationship between Ulay and Marina Abramovic on the Louisiana Channel website. For more recommendations from the cultural world, One good thing archive.


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