Lost Love

Oh my goodness, this video is so moving and electrifying. The artist Marina Abramovic did a 2010 performance art piece at the Museum of Modern Art, where she sat in a chair, and, one by one, people could sit opposite her and look into her eyes. It was a powerful experience even with strangers, but then her former love Ulay arrived without her knowledge. This video shows the moment she sees him. Apparently they had had a passionate love affair back in the 70s, but when they felt the relationship was fizzling, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting in the middle for a last hug and never seeing each other again. Here they are, meeting once again.

P.S. Old loves.

(Via Swissmiss. This video is edited footage from the documentary, The Artist is Present)

  1. Like the other commenter, this totally caught me off guard on how it affected me. Wow.

  2. Now I really want to know what happened after that…Did they reunite? Was love rekindled?
    I was in love with this guy Jon in college, but I never had the courage to tell him. I’ve always been shy. We lost touch of course. I listed him as one of my top lost loves on and one day I got an email that I had a match and that it was Jon. My heart stopped! We started chatting over email and then met up. Unfortunately sparks didn’t really fly, but it was nice to know he felt the same way….now if Scott would just find me!

  3. this post made my cry…what an amazing and heart touching moment!

  4. An amazing moment caught on film!… Watched the documentary about a month ago and it was awesome!

    • This was beautiful and it moved me to tears. However, I think she would be more beautifully authentic as an artist without the Botox, juvederm and collagen which is causing her face to lose its natural expressiveness. Ulay, however, is au natural, and far more expressive and authentic.

  5. wow, that’s such a beautiful moment.

  6. Oh my gosh, that is the most beautiful moment. I haven’t seen anything that heart felt in a long time.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  7. That is beautiful. What a lovely, gorgeous story. That’s really sad that he married the Chinese translator though. Tragic for her.

  8. they actually conceived the Great Wall Walk idea when they were still in love with each other – they originally wanted to meet in the middle and get married, but over the course of 8 years of planning it their relationship began dissolving (they ending up both having affairs with other people) so they decided to meet in the middle and end it instead. also he impregnanted and married the chinese translator who worked with him on their walk of the great wall of china. awkies!

  9. How amazing, I teared up. What a wonderful video and moment to capture.

  10. I haven’t seen something so visceral in a long time. Amazing.


  11. This bothers me. I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that she cried as if she had not seen him in ages, when in fact, she had seen him that morning and knew that he’s a guest at the exhibit. I know this is a performance art piece and that no one seems to have stated that she is seeing him for the first time in ages. But by all manner of appearances, she certainly seems to suggest that there is an element of surprise during this encounter – why else the tears when she’s already seen him that morning? Art is often imitation, fake, or what have you, and I don’t mind that, but I kind of do mind it if it’s deceptive and misleading because that plays on trust you put into an artist, who is then manipulating your feelings with something not genuine.

    • I have to disagree. While I haven’t seen the full documentary (so I had not heard that she had seen him earlier in the day, taking away the aspect of surprise), I don’t see her reaction as phony or deceptive, even in that context.

      Rather, I can imagine Abromovic reflecting in that shared moment at how wonderful it was to have Ulay there with her, and having him as a part of a meaningful piece of performance art. She didn’t need to be surprised by his presence to be overwhelmed with emotion as she collaborated with him once again (if even in a small way). Art played such an important role in their relationship, it makes sense to me that the act of participating in a performance together would draw that history into sharper focus in her mind, and could certainly move her to tears.

  12. this was so beautiful! life is amazing! xo

  13. Ah – tears…

  14. *E says...

    This absolutely made my day. Thank you.

  15. wow so special its love from another time! If it was me now, i would have facebook stalked him before i got off the wall!!!

  16. Thank you that was powerful – the way they looked at each other left me breathless

  17. You always find incredible things to share! I felt like I could read there thoughts and feel their love! Beautiful!

  18. I’ve been wanting to see this! Thank you for posting it. Isn’t it beautiful how the artist herself was surprised by her own work?! Oh, I love it!

  19. wow. thanks for posting. i just called my mom and sister and told them to watch!

  20. wow. thanks for posting. i just called my mom and sister and told them to watch!

  21. Is there any video or article that tells what happened after the meeting? I can’t get over the look in both of their eyes. They said so much to each other without speaking one word. What happens next, Joanna??!! :) Yes, I am one of those people who spends hours after finishing a book or movie playing out the next scenes in my head. If you know, will you write another blog about them, please?!

  22. I never comment, but I was so intrigued by this video…I started reading up on this and looked at some of her other art work…very strange, but so interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  23. This was so moving, I was almost in tears! I’m dying to know if they met up afterwards for coffee, or something! (And random side note, one of the professors in my interior design program is in this video as an onlooker! haha)

  24. this really caught me off guard with how much it effected me. thanks for sharing.

  25. Ha cried too…Idk, you could just Feel it, feel how they were communicating thru the eyes, and his nods, like Yup…I know..i remember it too

  26. This video made me cry when I saw it the first time a few weeks back. So moving. I wonder how I would feel seeing an old love again?

  27. Can’t watch the video right now, but going off just your description….gosh, artists sure are dramatic, aren’t they ;)

  28. Definitely should not have watched this at work because I just started bawling! So tender and sweet and sad! Thanks so much for sharing.

  29. Joanna, it’s incredible finds like this that make me visit your blog shameless amounts of time every day. Thank you so much. Your blog is the best on the internet x

  30. I thought she ended that relationship after the 3 months Great Wall walk… not that it was mutually planned. At least that is what the art history books always told me…

  31. wow so powerful in just a few moments!
    my brother sat across her during this show- she rocks.

  32. Wow… just, wow

  33. I’m a little disappointed after having read the above link that talks about their backstory. If it was a true first reunion after that long it would have been amazing, but the fact they saw each other just that morning and he was a guest of honor at the exhibit puts a different spin on it.

  34. Wow, so beautiful. Tears.

    • Yes, it was well-choreographed (which made the scene disappointing). I was going to cite that exact same article from Art Info.

    • I should’ve scrolled up an inch more! It would’ve been awesome if that had truly been their first time meeting, but isn’t choreographed drama what movies and plays are all about? Well, good acting too—and given the context of this performance piece, I hope this wasn’t all acting. It still says something about the human experience.

  35. This moved me to tears. Thank you for posting.

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  37. Brought me to tears!!!!

  38. Oh. It is so touching!

  39. No matter the story, this clip is beautiful. I feel SO BLESSED that I was able to make it to MOMA to see this performance (although I didn’t have the guts to sit down with her or the patience to wait in the line) and to go through the retrospective? Did you see it, Joanna? I loved it. Totally a fan of Marina Abramovic.

  40. So Beautiful Joanna!

  41. Wow. Staring into someone else’s eyes like that is so intense. Even more so when it’s someone you feel passionately about. It’s so moving. Even if they had seen each other before the exhibit, nothing could have prepared either of them for that moment. Having an audience would only make it more intense. It’s brave to put yourself and your emotions on display like that. I wonder how much this drained her emotionally. Thanks for posting, Joanna!

  42. language is so overrated)

  43. Oh my God !!

  44. i watched the documentary about a year ago… it was overwhelming ….She is a GREAT artist….

  45. i remember when she did this – incredible clip!

  46. I cried. Such a strong moment.

  47. I love this video!


  48. My favorite part of this clip, besides her leaning across the table, is the old lady that walks by, looks at the performance, makes a face like “this is bullshit” and walks away. I went back and watched that part twice, haha!

    Kate from Clear the Way

    • Haha mine too! I mentioned it in my comment above :) Hilarious@

  49. OMG this was SO powerful…thanks for finding those gems…. I feel very shaken by this actually

  50. That just make me cry. Totally beautiful.

  51. Wait, so they each walked from either end of the Great Wall of China to meet in the middle?? To break up?? That’s 1500 miles each! Sorry, calling BS on that one. Though these two do seem to have a flair for the dramatic, huh? :/ It’s unfortunate that, according to other comments here, the context of this clip is not all that it seems. If I had been ther, I don’t think I’d sit down in front of her lol… how awkward. I love the one lady’s face from the audience, the one with the short grey bob haircut: her face clearing says “WTF?” and she walks away LOL.

    • *clearly says


  52. I agree with kfunk, the details should be edited, this is not the first time they met after their break up, they met prior to the show opening. Though nothing is ever as it seems with Marina, but if you watch the film, this part is not really romantic as it seems, context is everything.

    Watch the whole film it is truly amazing.

  53. This is so incredibly moving (regardless of exactly what the backstory is). Even just the moments between the true strangers are so moving. It’s amazing how rare and momentous it is…for just two human being to silently be in front of each other looking into each others eyes. It can seem like such a trivial thing, and yet we can live an entire life and only experience this a few times, if at all. Thanks for sharing!

  54. Such a tender and beautiful moment, hard to believe that those two souls belong anywhere but together…

  55. For those of you who asked what happened next – some time after that he had an interview for the Slovenian news paper Sobotna priloga where he talked about this meeting and said he thought her crying made her seem a little pathetic.

    • I am so curious to know more about this! Very interesting. I am totally intrigued and want to watch this documentary now.

  56. I cried like a baby.

  57. This is incredible. I love when experiences like this can authentically be captured on film. Truly something special.

  58. oh this made me cry… as my toddler watched and laughed.. which made me cry, and then laugh too!

  59. Please watch “The Artist Is Present” in its entirety – you will note that background provided is incorrect (SwissMiss seens to have picked up this misinformation from ZenGarage). This moment was emotionally fraught but not quite for the seemingly pure and romantic reasons that this clip, taken out of context, suggests.

    I think it’s a disservice to the complexity of their relationship to leave these incorrect details – please edit.

  60. Wow! I watched it in class, before class started and was afraid I would start crying! Yikes! Haha. So good! Love her!!!! Have you seen her cutting herself in live art, really crazy cool.

  61. I’ve seen it, I know the back story, I know it’s misleading to say it’s their first meeting since the Great Wall… and yet I still cried here at my desk at work. Such a beautiful moment.

  62. Oh my gosh I saw this story posted a couple of weeks ago and I watched it about 12 times. It is so wonderful!

  63. I just love this.

  64. I had seen video of this several times but never knew the story behind this participant. I read that a friend once asked Ulay, “How could you break up with Marina?” and Ulay replied, “Because I thought I deserved less.” Pretty powerful.

  65. I am with Pamela – it’s an incredibly moving scene in the documentary, but it would be inaccurate to portray this as the first time they see each other after the Great Wall event. They met with each other again prior to the exhibit (that moment is also great!) and are around each other some days leading up to the MoMA opening. In the documentary, Marina Abramovic seems unaware he plans to participate in “The Artist is Present.” Anyone who was touched by the clip: I highly recommend watching the film! Very good.

  66. And he just walked away!?!

  67. How awkward would it be for the next person sitting in the chair.

    • Haha, true

  68. I loved this part of the documentary, but this video on it’s own is a little bit misleading. They had met and were spending time together during the planning stages of this project – so it’s not as if they are laying eyes on one another for the first time in so many years. I don’t know if she knew that he’d sit opposite her on that day or in that moment – but regardless it is a touching moment.

    • Yes! Thanks for noting that Pamela.. having watched the documentary, I knew the same :)

      Beautiful post nonetheless!

      xo Nadia

  69. wow. i hope they lived happily ever after.

  70. Oh my goodness. I am dying to know what happened next. Did they ever see each other again?

  71. this is AWESOME. and she is just stunningly beautiful, too! thank you so much for sharing.

  72. The first time I saw it, couldn’t help it but cry a little… it gets me everytime!
    Makes me think of an old boyfriend.. and how would I react.

    There’s a song (in spanish) that said: “y es que hay cosas que no consigues olvidar, no importa el tiempo que eso dure”


  73. wow. that is truly amazing. what a beautiful moment to capture.

  74. It’s amazing how much you can read from their subtle reactions even when nothing is said and we don’t know them personally. It’s so moving!

  75. I have to share this! It’s too beautiful!

  76. I know I’m pregnant and all but that made me tear up! Such composure! I couldn’t have done it.

  77. that was so beautiful. thanks for sharing.

  78. I came upon this a while ago too. I totally teared up watching it over and over!

  79. Glad I wasn’t the only one tearing up at my desk – that was incredibly moving.

  80. This gave me shivers! Thank you for sharing.

  81. This made me cry! How powerful, how beautiful! So much said with no words at all!

  82. Thank you for sharing this. Really beautiful.

  83. Incredible! Thank you for sharing this. Always great to start the day with a good cry!

  84. Wow…such a raw emotion. wow.

  85. I cried, each of his nods seem to tell a story that bring back memories, as well as say “yes it’s me and we are ok”.