Marina Abramović and Ulay: relive the art couple’s most memorable performances

Marina Abramović and Ulay: relive the art couple’s most memorable performances
Image: Marina Abramović and Ulay, AAA-AAA, 1977-1999 Collection macLYON © Adagp, Paris, 2021

5 August 2021

The Contemporary Art Museum in Lyon (macLYON) is hosting an exhibition showcasing recordings and archival photographs of performances made by artists Marina Abramović and Ulay between 1976 and 1988.

The duo met in Amsterdam in 1976 and started to collaborate on boundary-breaking performances soon after. In 1986, Abramović and Ulay presented their work at the macLYON. In 1995, when the pair broke up, they decided to savour their artistic partnership by putting together an archive, which was acquired by the French museum.

On 15 September that archive will go on show as part of Marina Abramović & Ulay — The collection: Performances 1976-1988 and run until 2 January.

Among the highlights is Abramović and Ulay’s 1977 performance Imponderabilia, for which the duo stood naked on each side of a door, inviting audiences to choose which person they wanted to face as they walked into the exhibition. In Breathing in/Breathing out, also from 1977, the two artists are locked in a long kiss, breathing in each other’s exhaled air to the point of potential asphyxiation.

Nightsea Crossing, on the other hand, might strike audiences as an early precursor to The Artist is Present: it involved the two artists sitting opposite each other, silently, across a table. This work was performed between 1981 and 1986 in a series of 22 acts showcased across the world, from Sydney to Chicago. The exhibition also features their 1988 work The Lovers: The Great Wall walk, for which Abramović and Ulay both walked the length of the Great Wall of China from different ends to meet halfway and bid farewell to each other, sealing the couple’s separation.

Find out more here.

Image: Marina Abramović and Ulay, Relation in Time, 1977-1999 Collection macLYON © Adagp, Paris, 2021
Image: Marina Abramović and Ulay, The Lovers: The Great Wall Walk, 1988, Seen at macLYON in 1999, Collection macLYON © Adagp, Paris, 2021
Image: Marina Abramović and Ulay, Breathing in / Breathing out, 1977-1999 Collection macLYON © Adagp, Paris, 2021
Image: Marina Abramović and Ulay, Imponderabilia, 1977-1999 Collection macLYON © Adagp, Paris, 2021
Image: Marina Abramović and Ulay, Nightsea Crossing, 1986, photo Blaise Adillon, Collection macLYON © Adagp, Paris, 2021

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