“A story of two artists.”
Marina Abromovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.
At her MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, where she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened.
At the start…
Marina: I fell in love with a German artist who lived in Amsterdam. I had been invited to appear on a television program called Body Art there. I was the only one from Eastern Europe who was asked, and just to be there in Amsterdam on my birthday… my grandmother said, “Whatever comes on your birthday is important.”
So I went there, and on my birthday, I met Ulay.
Ulay, when I met him, had half of his face like a woman—complete with makeup and the hair wavy—and the other with short hair and a beard. He was doing all this research into transsexual things about man, woman, transvestites. Very complicated.
When he met me, the woman half of him disappeared.
It was incredible. It was this enormous attraction at first. We went to sleep, and for like ten days we didn’t leave the room. And we were both born on the same day, and we met on our birthday. There were many strange things that happened.
In James Westcott’s ‘When Marina Abramović Dies.’
Marina: When reading James’s book, I really cried a lot when I read the passages about my split with Ulay.
A friend once asked him,
“How could you break up with Marina?”
And Ulay replied,
“Because I thought I deserved less.”
Their video brought me to tears, without them even saying a single word.
It was one of those instances where words are no longer needed, where love exudes itself and requires nothing but its true presence, expressing the inexpressible; makes you feel what is there, what has been there all along.
I felt every bit of emotion.