Marina Abramovic, the world's most recognized performance artist, is being sued by her former partner in art and life, Ulay, in a dispute over finances and accreditation for their early works. Abramovic vigorously denies the accusations and believes Ulay is attempting to ruin her reputation and career.
Ulay contends that Abramovic has broken their 1999 contract regarding the distribution of profits from their shared works—"The points I'm asking of her are: every six months, a statement on sales and my royalties. And I'm asking for absolute proper mentioning of my name."
Abramovic's lawyer released a statement in response to Ulay's charges: "Mrs Abramovic totally disagrees with Ulay's allegations. My client considers that this lawsuit is abusive and aimed to damage her reputation in public. She will defend her rights and reputation by all legal means."
After meeting in Amsterdam in 1976, the couple began what would become a 12-year-long collaboration under the joint name "The Other." Their works explored the nature of identity and intimacy by putting themselves in various extreme states intended to physicalize their relationship.
To mark the end of their partnership in 1988, the famous pair engaged in a performance art piece entitled The Lovers—starting from either end of the Great Wall of China, Abramovic and Ulay walked the 2,500 km towards one another before embracing and parting in a grand gesture of final separation. The 90-day experience was subject of a documentary entitled The Lovers: The Great Wall Walk. It later emerged that Ulay had impregnated his translator over the course of the performance.
In 2010, their relationship became the focus of international intrigue after Ulay surprised Abramovic by attending her performance The Artist is Present, during which Abramovic sat for eight hours a day, staring into the faces of those brave enough to sit opposite her. A video of the former lovers crying together and holding hands across the table has now been viewed by millions.
Any amicable end to their relationship has now been called into question, as Ulay is suing Abramovic in what appears to be a grand gesture of a different sort altogether.
The case will be heard at Amsterdam district court later this month.