Marina Abramovic / Ulay, Collective in distribution, 1976 - 1988
From 1976 to 1988, Marina Abramovic (b. 1946, Belgrade, Yugoslavia) and Ulay (Frank Uwe Laysiepen, b. 1943, Solingen, Germany - d. 2020, Ljubljana, Slovenia) collaborated on a large number of performances in which video played a variety of roles, reaching from being a documentary tool to its use as a 'proper' artistic medium. They are one of the best-known Netherlands-based contemporary art collectives, having exhibited their works at various prestigious venues. As with Abramovic's celebrated solo works, their collaborations often employed 'endurance art' techniques that involved causing pain to or endangering the body in some way. This took a range of forms, from acts that posed a serious threat of physical violence to pieces which required sustained 'meditation' and concentration on the part of the artists. Themes in their work include an exploration of gender roles and interpersonal symbiosis, the elimination of the boundary between art and life and the relationship between technology and humans as part of the natural world. Abramovic/Ulay were interested in Asian culture and freely appropriated Eastern philosophical concepts for their work. This culminated in the famous Great Wall Walk of 1988, in which they each started to walk from a different end of the Great Wall of China, meeting in the middle for a brief reunion that marked the end of their relationship.