If you were in NYC during 2010, and you love the mystifying messages promoted by contemporary artists, you would have possibly attended the MoMA exhibit by Marina Abramovic, titled “The Artist is Present.”
Certainly, coming face to face with one of my favourite artists and being pierced by her haunting stare was enough to move me to tears, but I reckon that the discomforting shock I felt by the performance art guru was nothing like what the artist herself must have experienced,, when she saw her old lover Ulay, for the first time in 40 years.
In this exhibit, Abramovic, a prominent Serbian performance artist based in NYC, sat all day, every day, for a period of over two months during the MoMA hours of operation. During museum hours, viewers were invited to sit with her for a minute at a time in silence. The resultant exhibit created quite a sensation amongst art critics, but indubitably, whether it was discussions on how Abramovic did not defecate for several hours on end, to the guitar artist who accompanied her for days, every one of us had a comment or two about Abramovic’s stunning performance.
Abramovic has long been known and revered in the performance art world, and professes that she is “the grandmother of performance art.”
What most of us don’t know about is the intense love affair she had with artist Ulay. Starting her career in the 70s, Abramovic and Ulay have been instrumental in exploring the connection between the artist and their audiences, but as many great love affairs that are bright are wont to experience- their affair ran its course, and the two decided to part ways.
Legend in the art world has it that Abramovic and Ulay, when parting ways towards the end of the 1970s, decided to meet each other on the Great Wall of China, after both walked to the middle from either end. After this epic walk, the two parted ways, never to see each other again.
Until forty years later, that is, when Ulay showed up unannounced, at the opening night of Abramovic’s performance work in NYC.
Without overt romanticization, it’s safe to say that both Abramovic and Ulay symbolize what many of us know already, that most of us never stop loving silently, what we may have once loved aloud.
- Marina Abramovic and Ulay (swiss-miss.com)
- The Reunion Of These Two Artists Will Make You Cry (buzzfeed.com)
- No Words Necessary (thoughtsontheatre.wordpress.com)
- Marina Abramović (boredomisfun.com)