Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present

Marina Abramović and Ulay. _The Great Wall Walk._ 1988/2010. Originally performed for 90 days along The Great Wall of China. 16mm film (color, silent) transferred to two-channel video. 16:45 min. © 2010 Marina Abramović. Courtesy Marina Abramović and Sean Kelly Gallery/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Marina Abramović. The Great Wall Walk. 1988/2008

Originally performed for 90 days along The Great Wall of China. 16mm film (color, silent) transferred to two-channel video. 16:45 min. © 2010 Marina Abramović. Courtesy Marina Abramović and Sean Kelly Gallery/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ: When we was Australian desert and living with the Aborigines, we was looking to this report of astronauts who said that only construction who can be seen from moon, human-made, is the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China.

And then we got this idea, we should just walk the Great Wall. It took us about eight years from that moment to get permissions from Chinese Government.

The Great Wall of China was built, we discover, not just as a defense from the Genghis Khan and intruders to China, but it was really more like a metaphysical structure. The Great Wall is a replica of the Milky Way on the earth. It starts in Yellow Sea the head of the Dragon is buried in the sea, and the tail it’s in the Gobi Desert, and the body is in the mountain.

Ulay as the fire, as the male start from the desert, and I start from the female, as the water, from the sea.

GLENN LOWRY: Their original plan was to meet in the middle and get married. However, over the years between the inception of the idea and their performance, Abramovic and Ulay’s relationship dissolved. This was their final performance together.

MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ: Each of us walked two and half thousand kilometers to meet in the middle and depart from each other and continue working as a single artist. It was very dramatic and a very painful ending.

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