ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Marina Abramović and Ulay Meet: The Artist is Present with Video

Updated on December 31, 2017
stuff4kids profile image

Amanda is a retired educator with many years of experience teaching children of all ages and abilities in a wide range of contexts.

Marina Abramović

Performance Artist Marina Abramović.
Performance Artist Marina Abramović. | Source

...for we never stop loving silently those whom once we loved out loud

— Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović and Ulay

Marina Abramović and Ulay began a working relationship and a love affair of extraordinary intensity towards the end of the 1970s. For the next decade, they lived and worked together, performing theatre/art from the tour van they called home.

Eventually, they felt that they needed to part and go their separate ways. They decided to leave each other just as they had met and lived: as artists, collaborating and working together. So they agreed to walk along the Great Wall of China, each starting from one end and then meeting in the middle. Then they would embrace one last time and part, never to see one another again.

In 2010 Marina Abramović had a retrospective exhibition in which she performed The Artist Is Present. In this performance she sat for seven hours every day for three months in the gallery in which her other work was being exhibited. During that time she neither spoke, nor ate nor drank. She shared one minute of silence with each visitor that came to sit in front of her.

A quarter of a century after they had parted, they thought forever, Ulay arrived without her knowing. The performance was being filmed for a documentary about her work. This is what happened (play the video).

Marina and Ulay Meet

The Artist is Present

An aerial photograph of a moment from Marina Abramović's performance piece, The Artist is Present.
An aerial photograph of a moment from Marina Abramović's performance piece, The Artist is Present. | Source

Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović was born in Belgrade in Serbia on November 30, 1946.

Now based in New York, she is a controversial performance artist. After graduating from The Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1972, she taught for several years before beginning her career as a solo artist.

She is known as “the grandmother of performance art”. Performance art remains controversial and many people question whether or not the things performance artists do are “really art”. The artist Marina Abramović has established a huge following and been very influential in the arts scene of the 20th and 21st century.

Her work often is more theatrical than anything else and involves a direct engagement with the audience so that the boundaries between the artist, the artwork and the audience become blurred.

Sitting with Marina Abramović

Many who sat and shared a minute's silence with artist Marina Abramović during The Artist is Present were moved to tears.
Many who sat and shared a minute's silence with artist Marina Abramović during The Artist is Present were moved to tears. | Source

Ulay

Ulay is the stage name of the German performance artist, born Frank Uwe Laysiepen in the town of Solingen in 1943.

He became one of the most influential and admired performance artists during his heyday in the 1960s through the 1970s.

As an artist, he was always a keen collaborator, often travelling across the globe to fulfil the ambition to work with a particular artist whom he admired or with whom he felt a useful artistic relationship could develop.

However, it was in the late 1970s he would meet the expatriate Serbian artist Marina Abramović while both were working in Holland.

For the next ten years they lived and worked with each other, undergoing a profound personal, artistic and spiritual journey together. Ulay's best work was the fruit of this exceptional and concentrated collaboration.

In the period after his 1,500 mile walk along The Great Wall of China to meet Marina and say goodbye, he taught art and photography for many years before going back to an active artistic life as a photographer.

His current work deals with issues surrounding water, embracing biological, political, economic and environmental perspectives.

Awards won by Ulay as an independent artist

Year
Prize
 
1985
The Lucano Video Award
 
1986
The Polaroid Video Award
 
1986
Video Award – Kulturkreis im Verband der Deutschen Industrie
 
1984
The San Sebastian Award
 

The Artist is Present

Source

Marina Abramović Documentary: The Artist is Present

The excerpt in the video above now forms part of an arresting documentary about the whole three-month performance of The Artist is Present.

Watching the film, I felt that it portrays Marina Abramović with sympathy despite the on-going controversy surrounding her work which revolves around issues of disturbing imagery and occasional nudity. This film gives Abramović the opportunity to explain her work and us the chance to see not only this show but the powerful and emotive effect it had on the audience.

Marina Abramović was 65 years old making the film. I thought she looks stunning and much younger than her years.

In the small and introspective world of performance art, Marina Abramovic has become a legend in her own time.

Her work has always been shocking, strange, unpredictable and moving in unexpected ways. This documentary film covers her earlier work but focusses on the New York presentation of The Artist is Present.

The simple, yet powerful idea behind the performance stands out as a masterpiece of its kind.

For her to sit and to be present was enough to awaken powerful experiences and emotions in those who came to witness and take part in the work.

The Artist is Present Review

Seductive, fearless, and outrageous, Marina Abramović has been redefining art for nearly forty years. Using her body as a vehicle, she creates performances that challenge, shock, and move us. Marina Abramović The Artist Is Present is a mesmerizing journey into the world of radical performance, and an intimate portrait of an astonishing magnetic, endlessly intriguing woman who draws no distinction between life and art.

Although critics have likened the performance to “an extended kid's game of staring and see who blinks first” and asked the question, “is this really art?” the piece has great naturalness and solemnity and had an electrifying effect on the public who saw it - and not just the unexpected and moving meeting with Ulay.

One of the most striking effects of the performance was the number of people who sitting and looking and being looked at, smiled or more often wept, tears both of sadness, joy and sense of a deep, shared experience.

The performance was filmed and photographed and reveals that many “sitters” made unconscious gestures such as placing the hand on the heart or lowering the head.

I don't know if “art” or “theatre” or something else best describe it, or perhaps just “life observed”. What I know is that I had a powerful emotional response to the video (it inspired me to write this article).

I believe this performance has something both real and important to say to us.

How often, in our busy lives, do we take the time to stop, even just for one minute, and look into the eyes, into the soul, of those around us?

I believe this experience caused both the smiles and tears. I believe it led to a profound recognition, perhaps beyond words, of what we are and what we can mean to one another.

It is a beautiful and tragic love story in which we all play a part.

Source

A Word of Advice

If you are interested in exploring Marina Abramović's work further, please be aware that not all her work is as gentle as this. Much is very shocking and uncompromising and can involve disturbing imagery and nudity. If you think that might upset you, please be cautious. It is certainly not work to share with younger children.

Your Opinion Matters!

Do you think 'The Artist is Present' is a meaningful work?

See results

One Question Quiz

view quiz statistics

© 2013 Amanda Littlejohn

Have something to share? I'd love to hear from you!

Submit a Comment

  • stuff4kids profile imageAUTHOR

    Amanda Littlejohn 

    3 years ago

    Hi Audrey!

    Thanks for your visit. I'm glad you enjoyed this piece about Marina Abramovic and Ulay meeting at the famous MOMA retrospective.

    I find it very moving and interesting. As you imply, some of her other work is much more challenging, but I do think that she remains one of the most extraordinary and creative forces in performance art.

    Thanks for your comment. :)

  • AudreyHowitt profile image

    Audrey Howitt 

    3 years ago from California

    Thank you! I had not heard of either artist--and thank you for taking us our of our comfort zone a bit!

  • stuff4kids profile imageAUTHOR

    Amanda Littlejohn 

    4 years ago

    Galadriel? (Samwise/Frodo?)

    I am beginning to suspect some kind of plot here - this can't be mere chance that the entire cast of TLoTR has started commenting on my hubs!

    Still, many thanks for you very original and creative comments. Weird but wonderful. Bless :)

  • profile image

    Galadriel 

    4 years ago

    Now you are making crystal tears cascade from the eyes of the Elvish Queen...

  • stuff4kids profile imageAUTHOR

    Amanda Littlejohn 

    5 years ago

    Hi DD,

    Thanks for your comment. yes, I think this beautiful, moving story has had that effect on quite a few of us! Thanks for sharing.

    Bless you :)

  • profile image

    DD 

    5 years ago

    Made me cry so lovely.

  • stuff4kids profile imageAUTHOR

    Amanda Littlejohn 

    5 years ago

    Hi Cindi!

    Thank you for your amazing comment! I so agree with you.

    Thank you again and bless you :)

  • profile image

    Cindi Dawe 

    5 years ago

    Thank you for writing about this and showing the beautiful video. I think it is so emotional, so moving. We all want some kind of undying flame of love like that. Some strong spiritual connexion between souls that will last forever in life, art and all time. So amazing, so true and so deep.

  • stuff4kids profile imageAUTHOR

    Amanda Littlejohn 

    5 years ago

    Hi Insightful Tiger,

    Oh I'm so happy that you found this - no-one on HubPages had commented yet - and above all I'm happy that you found it beautiful and moving.

    Yes, do take the warning seriously, however. Venture beyond this at your own risk!

    Thanks again so much. Bless you :)

  • Insightful Tiger profile image

    Insightful Tiger 

    5 years ago

    I thought their love story was beautiful! I was moved by their encounter and I want to find out more about them. Although, I appreciate the warning. Great hub! I look forward to reading more from you. Voted up and pinned.

  • stuff4kids profile imageAUTHOR

    Amanda Littlejohn 

    5 years ago

    Yes! I think so too. :)

  • profile image

    Iris 

    5 years ago

    Awesome. Just awesome.

  • stuff4kids profile imageAUTHOR

    Amanda Littlejohn 

    5 years ago

    Thank you so much for that comment. I shed a tear, too. I think, as I wrote at the end, that whatever you may think of this as 'art' there is a valuable lesson we can learn from it if we wish.

    Bless you. :)

  • profile image

    Maria Carlos Mazzini 

    5 years ago

    A deeply beautiful love story and art. In the video, I cried. So beautiful.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)