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Marina Abramovic and Ulay, “AAA AAA” (1978)
Marina Abramovic and Ulay, “AAA AAA” (1978)

Marina Abramović and Ulay are writing a memoir together

The pioneering performance artists and former lovers have an incredible, tumultuous story

Marina Abramović and Ulay, the boundary-pushing performance artists and former lovers, are reuniting to write a memoir together. The book will chronicle their 12-year creative and romantic relationship, which was famously pioneering and tumultuous respectively.

In an interview with artnet News at the debut of his new exhibition at Boers-Li Gallery in New York, Ulay related that he had floated the idea of a joint book with Marina during her own exhibition opening in Bonn a few weeks previously.

“During the talk, it dawned on me. ‘Hey, there’s something we didn’t do: writing our memoirs,” he said. “Therefore, we maybe meet in August to get together for 10 days or two weeks to work on this manuscript.”

“There are so many unbelievable anecdotes which most people don’t know, and I think they’re worth reading – they will sound like fairy tales.” 

Ulay and Abramović pushed collaborative performance art into a new, extreme era across over a decade together as The Other – braiding their hair together and sitting back to back for 17 hours in Relation in Time (1977), another holding a bow and arrow together with the tip aimed at Abramović’s chest, inhaling each other’s breath until they passed out. Their breakup was immortalised in the The Lovers in 1988, where they parted on the Great Wall of China. They reunited at her major retrospective, The Artist is Present, where she had been sitting for eight hours a day staring into spectator’s eyes as Ulay made a surprise appearance. 

Abramović was sued by Ulay in 2015 over violation of a contract that covered works they had made together. He won royalties and full accreditation for their joint pieces. The pair have since made amends, describing their time together as “extremely important for the history of performance art”.

As artnet News reports, Ulay’s new exhibition, Renais Sense, includes collaborative art works, including their first together Relation in Space. The show focuses mostly on his solo photography. He also intends to launch his Earth Water Catalogue project later in 2018 to creatively respond to the issues surrounding clean drinking water around the world.

Later this month, Abramović will take part in a panel with Russian punk political collective Pussy Riot. She’s also working on a new work that will electrocute her with one million volts, for debut in 2020. 

Ulay: Renais Sense, is at the Boers-Li Gallery, New York, May 4-June 23

h/t artnet