Building a relationship with the self – # 2

This article consists of 4 parts. This is part 2. Written by Sophie Nusselder

Building a relationship with the self

Building a relationship with the self. Manjeet Manthur; one of the teachers of Parimukti is exploring this in meditations done by 2 persons.

Marina Abramović and Ulay

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Marina Abramovic and Ulay

Marina Abramović (Belgrado – Yugoslavia 1946) is a Serbian performance artist based in New York. Her work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind. Typical of Marina Abramović’s work is to cut down the distance between the artist and the audience by making her own body as the medium.

Her first well known performance; was when she was 27 years old. Marina explored the idea of a ritual by playing a knife game on camera, stabbing the surface between her splayed fingers with a knife and occasionally hurting herself. Afterwards she watched a video recording of the violence, and did attempt to replicate it. Another well known performance was in 1974 in MOMA Museum; New York. Here Abramović  sat passively before a table littered with objects for six hours, inviting the audience to put them to use on her person (of this piece, Abramović says: “What I learned was that if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you. I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach etc”.

In 1976, Abramović met Ulay, a West German artist who would become her lover and collaborator for the next twelve years. The performances the pair created during this time often exploited their duality to investigate ideas such as the division between mind and body, nature and culture, active and passive attitudes, and between male and female. Unfortunately the duo fell into an impersonal abyss, losing their selfhood and attempting to become a single entity through arresting performances. An example of one of these is ” Breathing in – breathing out” they locked mouths and breathed each other’s exhaled breath, eventually filling their lungs with carbon monoxide and falling unconscious. In 1988, their romance had finished. The pair decided to part by walking from opposing ends of the Great Wall of China until they met in the middle, and then said goodbye.

From March 14 to May 31, 2010, the MOMA museum in New York held a major retrospective and performance recreation of Abramović’s work, the biggest exhibition of performance art in MoMA’s history. During the run of the exhibition, Abramović performed The Artist Is Present, a 736-hour and 30-minute static, silent piece. She sat immobile in the museum’s atrium while spectators were invited to sit opposite her; watching her in the eye in silence for one minute. Ulay made a surprise appearance at the opening night of the show. There is a video on the web of this meeting .

When I saw this video for the first time I had to cry. This artist couple investigated their mental and physical boundaries and experienced emotions like anger, pain and desire in public performances. Emotions we all have. Apparently Marina had built a more healthy relationship with herself and wasn’t using (self) mutilation as performance material anymore. Now the ex performers were looking each other in the eye, sharing something beyond emotions: their pureness. Wow!

What’s the link between Abramović performance ” The artist is present” and the heart opening meditations Manjeet Manthur is guiding at Parimukti Yoga School? In part 3 of this article you can read about this topic.

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Acknowledgements: www.the, Wikipedia,

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