Marina Abramović and Ulay

Marina Abramović (Born November 30, 1946) A performance artist based in New York
Ulay (Born November 30, 1943) An artist based in Amsterdam and Ljubljana

In 1976, after moving to Amsterdam,
Abramović met the West German performance artist Uwe Laysiepen
and began their collaboration, explored the ego and artistic identity.

This was the beginning of a decade of influential collaborative work.

They formed a collective being called “The Other”,
and spoke of themselves as parts of a “two-headed body”.
They dressed and behaved like twins and created a relationship of complete trust.
They devised a series of works in which their bodies created additional spaces for audience interaction.

“The main problem in this relationship was what to do with the two artists’ egos. I had to find out how to put my ego down, as did he, to create something like a hermaphroditic state of being that we called the death self.”

In 1988, after several years of tense relations, Abramović and Ulay decided to make a spiritual journey which would end their relationship. They each walked the Great Wall of China, starting from the two opposite ends and meeting in the middle.

“We needed a certain form of ending, after this huge distance walking towards each other. It is very human. It is in a way more dramatic, more like a film ending … Because in the end you are really alone, whatever you do.”

At her 2010 MoMa retrospective, Marina performed The Artist Is Present, in which she shared a period of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Marina have had a deeply emotional reaction to Ulay when he arrived at her performance, reaching to him across the table between them.

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