Modus vivendi. Ulay & Marina Abramovic 1980-1985

From 18 April 1986 to 08 June 1986

Between 1980 and 1985, the performance artists Marina Abramovic (Belgrade, Serbia, 1946) and Ulay (Solingen, Germany, 1943) collaborated on a series of works in which art, life, aesthetics and ethics combined to create a unified whole.
Their performances explored the way the body and mind reacts to extreme situations.
This exhibition (originally mounted in 1985 by the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and subsequently held at the Castello), was the first to present a wide selection of works by the two artists, from the very start of their partnership. A part of this selection comprised photographs documenting the artists’ journeys through Australia, the US and Asia, where they staged a number of performances with the involvement of the local indigenous peoples. Among these are Conjunction and Positive Zero (both 1983), which examine the relationship between western society and the rituals performed by other cultures. From 1984 to 1985 the two artists produced Modus Vivendi, a series of works shot on Polaroid in which they acted out male and female archetypes.
One of their most important performance pieces is Nightsea Crossing (1982): the artists faced each other for seven consecutive hours and engaged in a psychological battle in which their aggression and competitiveness was sublimated to the point of passivity. Many of the duo’s performances investigate the notion of the symbiotic relationship and the overcoming of one’s own subjectivity, in a situation of balance/imbalance between two opposing forces.
[D.G.]

From 18 April 1986 to 08 June 1986