Thursday, March 1, 2012

"The Great Wall" by Cynthia Carr

Marina Abramovic and Ulay's performance piece was much more conceptual than simply walking, and it was much more of a personal journey than just a performance piece.  So many factors went into planning, as well as the actual journey, making it much more than an act of walking, and much more than anything that could be documented.  At first, when the couple was together, they anticipated the piece to resemble more of a love story. The fact that Marina and Ulay broke up before starting the piece changed the purpose drastically.  The piece became a journey where the two would both have to adapt to change, and have to anticipate any number of reactions from themselves and the other one when they finally met in the middle.  For this piece, they would be working alone, unable to draw off of each other's ideas. 

Marina and Ulay chose which end of the great wall to travel based on their connotations.  Marina's side was known as the male end, and Ulay's side was known as the female end.  Marina's side had rougher terrain, and she also decided to walk on the wall, whereas Ulay's side had a more flat terrain in comparison, and he chose to walk next to the wall, not on it. 

Marina was more focused on adapting to her surroundings and the people in them, whereas Ulay wanted them to adapt to him.  Marina's authorities were more cooperative, but that may be because she was more cooperative with them, in turn, getting her way.  Ulay's authorities were not cooperative with his wishes, perhaps because he was not cooperative with them.  Marina never traveled with a map, and had even walked the wrong way one day.  Ulay kept a detailed map with him at all times.  Marina acknowledged her "chaos" and his "practicality" and their differences in personality led to very different experiences. 

Though Marina and Ulay worked alone, they ended up writing the same line in separate poems that they had written: "cloud in the sky, dust in the eye."  They also cooperated with each other in the grand scheme of things.  They were committed to the idea, and they stuck with it even though their relationship and thus project plans had substantially changed. 

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