Relation in Time
Abramovic / Ulay, 1977, 74'54''

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The performance 'Relation in Time' (October 1977) took place at Studio G7 in Bologna, Italy. Sitting quietly for seventeen hours, Abramovic and Ulay were connected to each other by means of their hair. They spent the first sixteen hours doing this alone, but visitors were allowed in to witness the final hour. The form of the performance 'Relation in Time' is sober, while the content is complex, a fusion of many ideas. Ulay and Abramovic are sitting in front of a white wall, their backs turned towards each other. Abramovic's hair, pulled back tightly into a ponytail, is tied to Ulay's ('Hair is a kind of antenna, like air roots of trees'). The spectator sees them in profile, each looking in a different direction. At the start of the seventeen-hour marathon, the are sitting up straight. Later, when fatigue sets in, Abramovic in particular begins to slump a little, so that their hair, which was tied together tightly, begins to become looser. The process makes heavy demands on both the physical and mental stamina of the artists. In a very simple way, the artists try to reach a state of harmony between body and mind. Ulay and Abramovic have to rely on their mental strength to be able to sit still for seventeen hours, without speaking. This process of the submission of the body to the mind is a central element in ancient eastern meditation. John Cage, who was an influence to Ulay and Abramovic, called this 'activity within inactivity'. Abramovic, referring to the 'Relation work' in general: 'We became a kind of polarity. He presented the male energy and I presented the female energy, and we tried to combine them'. From the very outset of their cooperation, in 1976, Ulay and Abramovic regarded themselves as 'androgynous', as a unity containing both male and female elements. This idea derives from Greek, Chinese and American Indian sources that describe the melting together of man and woman, resulting in a state of absolute harmony. Read more...

  • Date: 1977
  • Length: 74'54''
  • Type: Video
  • Copyrights: All rights reserved (c) LIMA
  • Genre: performance (artwork genre), body art
  • Keywords: registration (technique), time, body