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Marina Abramović, ‘Relation in Time (With Ulay)’ (1977)
Marina Abramović, ‘Relation in Time (With Ulay)’ (1977)via

Marina Abramović sued by former lover and co-creator Ulay

Ulay has accused Abramović of claiming sole authorship of their joint works and failing to pay him properly

Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović is one of the art world’s most prolific figures and her collaboration with German artist Ulay was one its most fabled. The pair were lovers and co-creators for over a decade prior to their separation in 1988. “I’ve never had a relationship with a woman, or a man, with such a degree of symbiotic quality,” Ulay said in an interview in 2012. This relationship however, is now ruptured. Ulay is suing his former collaborator in a dispute over their joint works. 

“She is not just a former business partner,” Ulay, whose real name is Frank Uwe Laysiepen, told the Guardian. “The whole oeuvre has made history. It’s now in school books. But she has deliberately misinterpreted things, or left my name out.”

As well as accusing Abramović of claiming sole authorship of the work they created together, he has also accused her of failing to provide him with bills of sale or pay him properly.

However Abramović’s lawyer told the Guardian that she “totally disagrees” with Ulay’s allegations. “My client doesn’t want to comment on them, they are libellous. My client considers that this lawsuit is abusive and aimed to damage her reputation in public, which is proven by his allegations to you. My client is very confident in her position in front of the court. She will defend her rights and reputation by all legal means.”

Together they staged conceptual performances such as “AAA-AAA” (1977), “Relation in Time” (1977), “Breathing In/ Breathing Out” (1977) and “Rest Energy” (1980). Even the termination of their relationship in 1988 was a performance – titled “The Lovers: The Great Wall Walk”, the piece involved the pair walking from different ends of the Chinese wall, before meeting in the middle and saying goodbye for the final time. In 2010 the couple had an emotional reunion as part of Abramović’s 2010 installation – “titled The Artist is Present” – at MOMA, New York. This lawsuit marks a sad end of this formidable collaborative force.

h/t Guardian

Watch a clip of Marina Abramović and Ulay at her exhibition “The Artist is Present”, MoMA, New York, 2010 below: