Relation in Space
Abramovic / Ulay, 1976, 59'37''

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In July 1976, 300 visitors to the Venice Biennale witnessed the 58-minute performance 'Relation in Space'. At the start of the compilation version of the video registration, Abramovic explains the set-up of the performance: 'Two bodies repeatedly pass, touching each other. At a high speed they collide.' Just as in the other thirteen performances from the Relation work series, the basic principle is 'No rehearsal, no predicted end, no repetition'. Approaching each other from different sides of the space, Ulay and Abramovic collide with each other in the middle and then disappear from view. Sometimes they do not reappear for another twenty seconds before the process starts to repeat itself. During the early stages, Ulay and Abramovic softly touch each other whenthey pass, almost as if by accident. But the walking gradually turns into running, and the impact of the two bodies grows steadily. As they continue to collide, Ulay proves to be stronger than Abramovic, who is sometimes close to falling over. 'Relation in Space' goes through a remarkable development. The first time Abramovic loses her balance, Ulay reaches for her hand, and later he also tries to prevent her from falling. Their contact goes from being businesslike to personal. Due to this emotional development, 'Relation in Space' turns into an entirely different performance from what it looked like at the start. But the question is: Is it out of love or to save the performance that Ulay comes to Abramovic's aid? The way the performance was recorded - from a fixed point of view - is decisive in the interpretation of the piece. Where in 1976 the audience could see what happened beyond the range of the camera, viewers watching the video documentation of 'Relation in Space' have a much more limited field of vision. The video frame cuts out the activities on the periphery of the space, like the way Abramovic and Ulay prepare themselves for the next collision, and focuses on the core elements of the performance. Read more...

  • Date: 1976
  • Length: 59'37''
  • Type: Video
  • Copyrights: All rights reserved (c) LIMA
  • Genre: body art, performance (artwork genre)
  • Keywords: registration (technique), body, movement, space, violence