Tags: art installation, constant eye contact art, eye contact, eyes window to the soul, gobi desert, great wall of china, marina abramovic, moma, Ulay, yellow sea
Ok, so I know this video is going around the blogosphere, but I had to post it for my friends who haven’t seen it.
First, I’m a sucker for interactive art installations. I’m always surprised how my mind and heart twist when faced with an unexpected emotional piece of work. In this particular installation, artist Marina Abramovic sat at a table with an empty chair in a large room at MoMA. Onlookers were encouraged to take turns sitting across from Abramovic and stare right into her eyes for one minute. Eye contact can be such an intense feeling; and prolonged eye contact can be really difficult to keep, at least for me. It’s said that the eyes are the window to the soul. Everyone’s eyes tell a different story. Some you can read right off the bat, while others hold something deep and unknown.
So the video shows Abramovic taking a deep breathe and peering back at person after person. She generally has a blank look on her face—until the moment when she takes another deep breathe, looks up and her former lover from many moons ago was sitting across the table from her, silently staring back into her eyes. I was instantly brought to tears watching her face change, her eyes turned red and then welled up with tears. Her former lover, an artist as well, named Ulay and she spent years together in the 1970-80’s. Eventually their relationship reached it’s end and Abramovic had a dream of how they should part ways. The two went to opposite ends of the Great Wall of China: Ulay starting at the Gobi Desert, and Abramovic at the Yellow Sea. Each walked 2500km meeting each other at the half way mark. There, they embraced one last time and went on their way. It was at the art opening that they saw each other for the first time since that goodbye. I can’t imagine how many million emotions she must have felt seeing those eyes she used to look into every day, only now they were older, and held unknown stories from his own life apart from her.