Posted by Ayça Özceyhun

I narrated you Abramovic through my own eyes who will take place at Sabanci Museum between 31 January and 26 April 2020 for both her works and a project to do together with performance artists in Turkey.

There are some people, some women…
Their spirits are different, their stories are different, their revolts and narratives are different…
They embrace you, they haunt you, they fill an unknown, an emptiness inside you…

Marina Abramovic is a performance artist born in 1946 in Yugoslavia.
She defines her art as a form of art which is intangible even for her.
This is my favorite aspect of art, looking at the same thing and feeling different emotions, seeing different realities, going to different realms…

While trying to break her nose at home to fix her big nose, which she did not like when she was a little girl, she was hospitalized, but it was a dream to have her nose like Bridget Bardot outside of her plans and she defines it as her first performance.
I explained below the most important performances of Marina for me;

1. Rhythm 0

In 1974, with her six-hour performance at Studio Morra in Naples, she turned the art community upside down. In this performance, Marina sits calmly in a chair. On the table next to it, there are 72 materials such as wine, perfume, knife, feather, razor, rose, bullet, gun, saw, match, whip. The note on the table says that viewers can do whatever they want to Marina using these objects. The show, which started lovingly by giving her roses and kissing her, stopped when the audience continued to cut her clothes, dip the rose into her body, and eventually try to make her pull the gun full of bullets. At the end of 6 hours, everyone runs away from the environment. At the end of this performance, Marina said, “I learned that if you let the audience, they can kill you”. Another aspect of art is the emergence of the tendency to violence in us when we see someone who allows this and someone who is vulnerable.

2. Breathing in / Breathing out

In 1976, she meets Ulay, the love of her life. Love warms this person, increases courage, reveals what you hide inside, and here she reaches the heights of her art with Ulay… The duo show performances that question the relationship between men and women during their association. This performance reminds me of today’s relationships, by covering their nostrils with cigarette filters and joining their lips just by breathing each other’s breath and remaining breathless after 17 minutes. Relations that interfere with each other’s life, do not give some space to each other and eventually become breathless…

3. Rest Energy

In 1980, the duo performs with a bow and an arrow balanced with their body forces. Bow and arrow describe tense and dangerous communication between two people. The woman hangs from the bow, the man hangs from the beam and ensures balance and standing. Every relationship is a balance, and if the balance is broken, the relationships are shaken, damaged and eventually destroyed.


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4. Nightsea Crossing

Between 1981-1987, they show another remarkable performance with her lover Ulay. This performance takes place inside the museum or at the museum entrances. Sitting at both ends of a long table, the couple stands to look at each other without any movement. I also experienced this without being hours. Just by looking without speaking, we can tell so many to each other our love, sorrow, story, joy…

5. Imponderabilia

Imponderabilia is a performance that takes place in galleries and art centres. In this performance, Marina and Ulay were naked on the doorstep of the museum. While visiting the museum, you had to pass between these two naked people. But the thing that caught my attention is that the men pass by turning their front to Marina while the women pass by turning their front to Ulay.

6. The Great Wall Walk

Although it took 8 years to get permission, their last performance was to walk 2500 kilometers in 90 days from both ends of the Great Wall of China to their separation. They left, hugging each other and seeing for the last time. Although Ulay got married and chosen to live a family life while Marina devoted herself to her art more than ever.

7. Balkan Baroque

Balkan Baroque performance at the 47th Venice Biennial made a tremendous impression. She was sitting on the bloody animal bones in the basement, trying to clean the bones and purify them, while the videos of her parents were shown. She spent four days in the basement, which was getting warmer over time. She cursed all wars led by the Balkan War in an unpredictable smell. Looking at today’s age, what a valuable and meaningful performance it is.


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8. The Artist is Present

In 2010, she performed The Artist is Present exhibition, where her most striking works took place in Moma. Marina has trained young artists to perform her past works for this exhibition. She repeated the Nightsea Crossing show. The show, which lasts for one minute with each person and lasts for 7.5 hours every day and 736 hours in total, is touched us deeply after she saw Ulay on the opposite side of the table for the first time in 21 years. Those glances that contain many emotions, apology, maybe longing, incompleteness, maybe rebellion or forgiveness, and the union of hands overwhelm us all.


At an awards ceremony, at the age of 64, she remembers Ulay again and stated that an artist should never fall in love with another artist. On March 2, 2020, Ulay closed his eyes to life and will always live in our minds and within us with his art and work especially with Marina.
I wanted to tell a very special woman for me, I hope it was a bit of wonder and admiration for you too. I hope that your trip will come across the exhibition that keeps until the 26th of April. Let’s not stay away from art…


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