Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present

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Marina Abramović and ULAY. Nightsea Crossing/Conjunction. 1981-1987/1983

Marina Abramović (Yugoslav, born 1946)
and ULAY (German, born 1943) Nightsea Crossing
Digital slides (color, silent)
Duration variable
Courtesy Marina Abramović and Sean Kelly Gallery Conjunction
Wooden table coated in twenty-four-carat gold leaf, in eight parts
Parts of Table: 3 9/16 x 79 15/16 x 57 7/8" (9 x 203 x 147 cm)
Musée d'Art Contemporain de Lyon

GLENN LOWRY: Nightsea Crossing was a series of 22 performances that took place between 1981 and 1987 in 19 locations across a number of continents. During the performances, Ulay and Abramović sat silent and motionless at either end of a table facing each other.

Displayed next to Nightsea Crossing is a related work titled Conjunction. It was inspired not only by Abramovic’s deep interest in Tibetan spiritualism, but also the time she and Ulay spent immersed in Australian Aboriginal culture - an experience that proved one of their most transformative.

MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ: We chose this culture for many reasons. First, it's nomadic: the second, this culture who doesn't have possessions. It's the culture where always believe in the idea of here and now, which is exactly what is about performance. And the third thing is that their entire life is the ceremony.

And this piece Conjunction was really historically important because it was the first time ever that Aborigine and Tibetan Lama physically ever met.

We decide to construct very large table, covered with 24 karat gold leaves, and at that table Ulay and me sitting in the Western position, and opposite the table is the Tibetan Lama and a high degree medicine man sitting in cross leg position, in Eastern way. And we are there sitting four days at seven hours a day, just sitting in meditative state.