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“We lend ourselves to demonstrate the inability and traumatic fears of human relation. That was the deal.”
After 30 years, the legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and the late Ulay agreed to come together, for the first time on camera, for a raw, honest, and unfiltered conversation about their art, life, and legacy.
In this film, ‘No Predicted End,’ the two former lovers and artistic collaborators take us through some of the most monumental performances from their years together from 1976 to 1988. They met on the 30 November – their shared birthday – after a solo performance by Marina Abramović called ‘Lips of Thomas’, which involved cutting her stomach with a razor blade. When the performance was over, Ulay offered to care for her wounds, “so lovers were first,” Ulay recalls.
In 1976 the two artists joined forces with the pivotal work, ‘Relation in Space.’ A man and a woman clashing against each other continuously like Newton’s pendulum, which was also one of the inspirations for the performance. Next was ‘Relation in Movement,’ driving in circles for 16 hours in front of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Then moving on to Bologna, creating the public hit, ‘Imponderabilia’ in 1977 – standing opposite each other, creating a living door to the museum. From 1976 to 1980, the performances were very active, charged, and confrontational.
From 1980 to 1988, the performances took a more inactive and spiritual form. ‘Nightsea Crossing’ took place for 90 days over five continents from 1981 to 1987, sitting motionlessly in front of each other, fasting (much like the later performance, ‘The Artist Is Present’ by Marina Abramović at MoMA in 2010; Instead of Ulay sitting in front of her, the public did). It all ended when the two artists separated on the Great Wall of China after walking the entire distance from opposite ends. After ‘The Great Wall Walk,’ in 1988, their relationship and collaboration ended and would stay this way until they finally agreed to meet in 2018 for this film, 30 years after they separated.
“There were things which we never discussed. They were just silenced. But now, we will dig into our true heart, soul, and minds to bring this open.”
While looking back at their pioneering performances from 1976 to 1988, the two artists also talk intimately about their life together as lovers and why they couldn’t go on endlessly. “Both of us went through real heaven and hell,” Marina recalls. “We exhausted each other,” Ulay says. The two artists also reflect on the legacy they have left behind for generations and give their take on how the artistic expression of performance has evolved and where they believe it will go in the future.
Ulay (Frank Uwe Laysiepen, b.1943 – d.2020) is a German artist, who was based in Amsterdam, Holland, and Ljubljana, Slovenia. Ulay received international recognition for his work as a photographer, mainly in Polaroid, from the late 1960s, and later as a performance artist, including his collaborative performances with Marina Abramović from 1976 to 1988. His work has continuously dealt with politics, identity, and gender. In 2016 Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany, held the first major retrospective show of his work ‘Ulay Life-Sized.’ In 2020 the Stedelijk Museum had the largest-ever and first international post-humous retrospective exhibition of his work ‘Ulay Was Here.’
Marina Abramović (b. 1946) was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is now based in New York. She began her work as a performance artist in the early 1970s and is now regarded as one of the most essential artists in the field. Her work explores the relationship between the performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind. Her retrospective ‘The Artist is Present’ at MoMA, New York, in 2010 gave her a vast international breakthrough. In 2017 the retrospective exhibition ‘The Cleaner’ was shown at Moderna Museet in Stockholm and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, among other places in Europe.
Marina Abramović and Ulay were interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg in upstate New York at Marina Abramović’s home over ten days in August 2018 for the film ‘No Predicted End.’
Directed, edited, and produced by Kasper Bech Dyg
Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Additional Camera: Kasper Bech Dyg
Music: Simon Dokkedal
Sound Mix: Torsten Larsen
Colour Grading: Klaus Elmer
Graphic Design: Louisiana Design Studio
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.
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