5 Years ago – Marina Abramović

Facebook has an amazing way of propagating really cool information. It was a post from a friend that led me to the Grandmother of performance Artists, Marina Abramović.

5 years ago, from the 14th March to the 31st May Marina did a live art performance at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, New York City called “The Artist is Present”. In this, she sat silent and immobile at a table and spectators could sit across from her. On the opening night, Ulay took a seat across from her and then another story took place.

The story of Ulay and Marina is simple. They are both artists that worked together back in the 1970’s, and did many performance pieces that garnered much attention. Once specific one was Breathing In/Breathing Out, where they kneeled in front of each other attached at the lips and breathed each others breath until their lungs were full of Carbon Dioxide and they both feinted.

The night of “The Artist is Present” and Ulay had me look back on the why this was the way it was, and the story is a bit emotional. After their many years of their relationship began to break down, they decided to end their bond in one of the best ways imaginable. In 1998, they each walked the Great Wall of China, Marina from the Yellow Sea side and Ulay from the Gobi Desert side. After 2500kms of walking they met in the middle, embraced one more time, and then went their separate ways.

30 years later, on the opening night of “The Artist is Present”, Ulay showed up without Marina knowing. The rest is performance art history.