Breathing In/Breathing Out

‘We are kneeling face to face, pressing our mouths together. Our noses are blocked with cigarette filters. I am breathing in oxygen. I am breathing out carbon dioxide.’

In their performance piece Breathing In/Breathing Out Marina Abramovic and Ulay blocked their noses with cigarette filters and clamped their mouths tightly together, breathing in and out each other’s air.  After seventeen minutes they both fell to the floor unconscious. The viewers could sense the tension through the sound of their breathing, which was augmented through microphones attached to their chests.  Is it a beautiful romantic gesture or a comment on how relationships absorb and destroy an individual?

“Something tender and violent at the same time emerges from the performance: the couple are decided to stick together despite the effort, the danger, the damage; but as is the case with human relations of this kind of intensity, they end up with violence, pain, and a part of each other ‘dead’. It is the idea of interdependency portrayed to its extreme.” Interartive

abramovic breathing in breathing out

Breathing In/Breathing Out. Marina Abramovic and Ulay. 1977.

Breathing In/Breathing Out. Marina Abramovic and Ulay. 1977.

Breathing In/Breathing Out. Marina Abramovic and Ulay. 1977.