Nightsea Crossing The Observer (HD)
Marina Abramovic / Ulay, 1984, 6'06''

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Although in most of the performances from the 'Nightsea Crossing' series (1981-1987), Ulay and Abramovic are performing alone, there are some exceptions to this rule. In 'Nightsea Crossing: The Observer' (October 1984, Middelburg, the Netherlands), the artists couple was joined by the Swiss artist Rémy Zaugg. Earlier, in 'Nightsea Crossing Conjunction' (April 1983), Ulay and Abramovic performed together with a Tibetan Lama and a member of the Pintubi tribe from the Central Australian Desert. However, the role of Zaugg in 'Nightsea Crossing: The Observer' was different from that of the two extra participants in 'Nightsea Crossing Conjunction', who were sitting at the table with the artists, as he explicitly played the role of a spectator, not of a participant While Ulay and Abramovic were in their usual positions at either end of a rectangular table, Zaugg sat at a small table a few metres in front of them. During the seven hours that the performance lasted, Zaugg kept looking at Ulay and Abramovic. The video registration of 'Nightsea Crossing: The Observer' intentionally lasts as long as it takes Zaugg to smoke a cigarette (the caption of this work is therefore '- le temps d' une cigarette -'). In the voice-over, he explains how he experienced both his role of 'observer' and the performance. He starts with an analysis of what observing actually entails. Then he describes what he sees: 'The observer observes, but what does he observe?' Zaugg is aware of his double role during the performance. On one hand, he is not part of it, as he is watching Ulay and Abramovic from a distance, but on the other hand, he, in turn, is being observed by the audience attending the performance. Due to his intervention, the audience is not able to observe Ulay and Abramovic directly. The same goes for whoever is watching the registration. The title 'The Observer' refers to all parties who are involved in the performance. Ulay and Abramovic invited Zaugg to observe them, obstructing part of the view. Zaugg observes and is being observed by the audience. In the registration of 'Nightsea Crossing: The Observer', the back of Zaugg's head fills the greater part of the screen. On either side of it, Ulay and Abramovic can be seen, very small. Now and then they disappear into Zaugg's cigarette smoke. Read more...

  • Date: 1984
  • Length: 6'06''
  • Type: Video
  • Copyrights: All rights reserved (c) LIMA