“Imponderable. Such imponderable human factors as one’s aesthetic sensitivity/the overriding importance of imponderables in determining human conduct.”
In their fascinating performance piece Imponderabilia (1977), Marina Abramovic and Ulay stand naked face to face in the narrow doorway of the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Bologna. To enter the museum they must squeeze between the two naked artists, choosing to face the man or the woman, meanwhile a camera documents their choice. At once humorous and disturbing, the performance is a study of human behavior where the spectators become the subject. The vulnerability that usually surrounds a nude figure is transferred to the clothed visitor squeezing between Marina and Ulay.
Te Busco y No Te Puedo Encontrar
Set in 1920s Spain, Pablo Berger‘s black and white silent film, Blancanieves (Snow White), reimagines the classic fairy tale amongst bullfighting and flamenco. A must-see!
“I think a movie’s like a paella, you put all of your obsessions in there. But the first idea came with a photo, of bullfighting dwarves, which I saw in this amazing book, España Oculta. Christina Garcia Rodero spent 15 years travelling around villages in Spain, photographing fiestas. These dwarves were looking at me, because they were looking straight at the camera, and somehow I imagined placing a young woman amongst them, a teenager dressed as a bullfighter, and she’s like Snow White. That was it. Then I started pulling the strings.” Pablo Berger
In 1975 Marina Abramovic met Ulay, an artist who shared her date of birth as well as her artistic concerns. Over the next two decades they lived and collaborated together, performing and traveling extensively. Their performances explored the parameters of power and dependency within the triangular relationship between each other and their audience.
In one performance, Breathing In/Breathing Out (1977), with their mouths clamped tightly together and microphones taped to their throats, Abramovic and Ulay breathed in turn the air from each other’s lungs, until – almost to the point of suffocation – they were exchanging only carbon dioxide. In another, Rest Energy (1980), they held a taut bow with an arrow loaded and pointing at Abramovic’s heart, with only the weight of their bodies maintaining the tension. Microphones recorded their rapidly accelerating heartbeats.
Text from Lacan
After a 12-year relationship fuelled by passion that could rival the greatest lovers in history, they finally agreed to part ways forever. For their last artistic collaboration they decided to each walk 2,500 miles from either end of The Great Wall of China, and meet in the middle to say their goodbyes. The 2012 documentary, The Artist is Present, reveals the moment when Ulay and Marina are reunited 20 years later in New York on the days leading up to her retrospective show.
Now living separate lives, the chemistry between them is still palpable. On the opening night of her show, when she begins her three-month stint in the wooden chair, staring people in the eyes, Ulay turns up and sits opposite her, creating a seriously epic, utterly real interaction between two past soulmates, brought together again by the art that joined them when they met.
Yves Klein used naked women as ‘human paintbrushes’ to make his Anthropometry paintings, which were produced as elaborate performances in front of an audience. Klein, in bow-tie and suit, would conduct the women as they covered themselves in paint (a colour he patented as ‘International Klein Blue’) and made imprints of their bodies, whilst musicians played his ‘Monotone Symphony’ – a single note played for twenty minutes, followed by twenty minutes of silence.
Yves Klein Anthropometry events were one of the key events in the history of painting and performance A revolutionary moment in art when the artist exposed the making of the painting. They really mark a shift between painting as something that happens on the canvas to artists exposing the making of painting