Performance artists and former lovers Marina Abramović and Ulay are to tell their story in a new co-written memoir. The book will survey the duo’s artistic career and turbulent relationship, spanning over a decade.
Talking to Artnet in New York, Ulay said: ‘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.’
Known collectively as ‘The Other’, the artists, who met in Amsterdam in 1976 and formed a romantic relationship, produced several pioneering performance artworks, including braiding their ponytails together and remaining seated for 16 hours in 1977’s Relation in Time. Even their breakup was realized and sensationalized as an artwork in 1988’s The Lovers: The Great Wall Walk: the artists spent 90 days walking the length of the Great Wall of China from opposite ends, meeting in the middle to say goodbye.
In 2010 Ulay was present at Abramović’s MoMA New York piece The Artist is Present, in which the latter shared moments of silence with strangers across a table. When Ulay appeared, the two cried and held hands (with videos of the encounter going viral). But Ulay ended up (successfully) suing Abramović in 2015 over contract violation for artworks they produced together, for which he won royalties and full accreditation – the duo have since made up.
Abramović is preparing for a landmark solo exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Arts in 2020 – one piece involves electrifying the 71-year-old artist with one million volts, allowing her to then snuff out a candle. It will be the first Royal Academy show that recognises a woman with a retrospective in the institution’s 250-year-history.