Nothing to Say: Marina Abramović Seeing Ulay

, by Zoë Gulliksen

A story can suddenly affect you in a way that you don't quite understand. Tonight I was scrolling through Tumblr, as one does before you go to sleep, and I came across a gif set of Marina Abramović from her 'The Artist is Present' show at the MoMa in 2010. I'm familiar with Marina from a class I took on performance artists in college and I knew about this particular show. You may know her from that episode of 'Sex and the City' where the Russian takes Carrie on a weird midnight date and gives her a banana (actual, not figuratively) to keep in her purse.

Well, the gif set I saw on Tumblr was apparently from opening night of her show where a man named Ulay showed up. The gift set wasn't working properly but this was the caption:

“Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again. at her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing it and this is what happened.”

I clicked on the link that led to YouTube and watched the following video:

This video made me cry, and then cry once more after I watched it again. I don't know anything about their relationship except from what the description above, but you can just tell in their expressions here how much seeing one another meant to them. 

I tried researching what happened to them after this night but I wasn't able to find any information. I like to think that they left the museum together, late at night, and spent at least one nostalgic night with one another.

What I get out of this is, so much can be said between two past lovers without having to say a single word. And that, is so incredibly frightening as well as moving that I wanted to share this with all of you as well. What did you get from watching this?


  1. What did he tell her?

  2. that is what I am trying to figure out. he speaks to her, she does not respond. what did he say?!?!