Breathing in, Breathing out (Belgrade)
Abramovic / Ulay, 1977, 10'45''

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Ulay and Abramovic introduce the video of 'Breathing in, Breathing out' (April 1977, Belgrade) as follows: 'We are kneeling face to face, pressing our mouths together. Our noses are blocked with cigarette filters.' Ulay says: 'I am breathing in oxygen. I am breathing out carbon dioxide.' Abramovic: 'I am breathing in carbon dioxide. I am breathing out carbon dioxide.' Ulay: 'I am breathing in carbon dioxide. I am breathing out carbon dioxide.' In November of the same year, the reverse version of 'Breathing in, Breathing out' was performed at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam under the title 'Breathing out, Breathing in'. The intimacy suggested by the video still is actually misleading. For almost twenty minutes, Ulay and Abramovic depend desperately on each othe to stay alive. They share their breath, without external access to oxygen. The physical struggle that ensues due to the lack of oxygen and to the breathing in of carbon dioxide is visibly exhausting. Abramovic is sweating profusely; her breathing is clearly audible. Ulay manages to control the rhythm of his breathing for slightly longer, but soon he is suffering too. At that point, Ulay and Abramovic are no longer sitting still, but are moving vehemently to and fro until they cannot take it anymore. They let go of each other's mouths, gasping to regain their breath. Compared to the other performances based on bodily stamina, this highly strenuous performance is relatively short, due to the lack of the most essential ingredient of life. Read more...

  • Date: 1977
  • Length: 10'45''
  • Type: Video
  • Copyrights: All rights reserved (c) LIMA
  • Genre: body art, performance (artwork genre)
  • Keywords: registration (technique), body, death, life