Performance Art / Reviews

Review: Marina Abramovic and Ulay’s Rest Energy (1980)

On June 8th, 2013, the Art Gallery of Ontario provided patrons the opportunity to experience the 1980 performance piece entitled “Marina Abramovic and Ulay: Rest Energy.”


Rest Energy encapsulates the essence of Marina Abramovic’s performance art. With an interest in exploring the capabilities and endurance of the human body, the four minute video, as described on the gallery’s website, “is an enactment of the extreme levels of trust and vulnerability inherent in any deep relationship.”

An arrow is directed at the heart of Abramovic as she leans backward while Ulay, a performance artist who collaborated with Abramovic for over 10 years in the ’70s and ’80s, also leaning backward, clasps the other end of the bow and arrow. Tensions mount as their strength and vigor come into question, but the heavier end of the burden lies on Ulay’s ability to hold on. Filmed in Dublin in 1980, you can catch the video at the gallery until December 15th, 2013.

As an aside: Ambramovic’s and Ulay’s last performance collaboration was The Great Wall Walk in 1988 where they received permission to each walk from opposite ends of The Great Wall of China and meet in the middle and get married. It is stated that, in the time it took them to gain access to the wall, their friendship dissolved and, instead of marriage, they chose to part ways. “Each of us walked two and half thousand kilometers to meet in the middle and depart from each other and continue working as a single artist. It was very dramatic and a very painful ending” (a quote from Abramovic on the event).

Babette Mangolte’s film, Seven Easy Pieces by Marina Abramovic, which documents Abramovic’s performance pieces reenacted in the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum back in 2005, will be playing at the AGO on Wednesday, June 12th.

Abramovic will also be participating in Toronto’s Luminato Festival in the North American debut of The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic (June 14, 15, 16, 17).


Originally published June 2013 by Andrea Wrobel for Toronto Social Review | Permalink


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