Marina Abramovic and Ulay: Because We Never Stop Loving Silently Those We Once Loved Out Loud


The video below, of artist Marina Abromovic meeting a former lover, Ulay, brought tears to my eyes (and down my cheeks, dripping onto my laptop). It was filmed during her 2010 installation art piece (read more here if you’re unfamiliar with it) which was one of the most intense and gorgeous pieces of art I have ever seen. I went to see it when I was first dating my current boyfriend, and we had a several hours long discussion while we watched Marina create her art. I’ll never forget it. I didn’t see this moment, but I think almost all of us can relate to it in that heartbreaking joy-sadness-longing kind of way.

Long story short, “Marina Abromovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.

At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, where she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened.”

About Starre Vartan
Starre Vartan is editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life.


  1. If you had actually watched the dcoumentary you’d know they met numerous times before this ‘reunion’. But hey it must be true if it’s on the Internet.

    • I know we should not believe everything we read in the internet, but I believe certain lies are worth being told, all I tough about after I’ve seen the video was love and I felt really good until I read your comment, I’m not mad or judging cause I know you didn’t do it on purpose, but think about what I said 😉

      • Mauro,

        What a thoughtful post. I am also comforted knowing no matter their last embrace these two people had that experience, no matter what…

  2. Well, they had planned on ‘never seeing each other again’ but like many things in life, things worked out differently. Yes, she had seen him months before but didn’t know he was going to show up during her show. I think it’s still really powerful – can you imagine what kind of emotional state you’d be in looking at strangers all day and then seeing someone who you not only know, but who is an former lover? I think it’s great.

    • Hi Starre, just wanted to let you know…I also think that this is great. This is truly great…witnessing a moment that people are sharing in such a beautiful space of love. It also brings tears to my eyes, and indeed streaming down my cheeks when I watch this.

    • It happened to me

  3. Wow, this definitely brought tears to my eyes. How powerful and beautiful. Even if they had seen each other months before, the emotion is obviously genuine.
    “Because we never stop loving silently those we once loved out loud.” So true here.

  4. What I would like to know is what happened afterwards? There is clearly so much love between them I cant believe (or may be don’t want to believe?) that there wasn’t some sort of reconciliation? Can any one help me please??

  5. This is really powerful! It Shows that words are really not needed…you can really feel the emotions and see that these 2 ex lovers obviously had a huge history together ! It’s beautiful!

  6. If one truly reads the whole story they had been involved in a lawsuit with one another. I feel they let go of the pain and anger and this was a moment of forgiveness. She never stated that in the inteview, but did discuss the lawsuit.

  7. What we are witnessing here in the video is an authentic moment. It saddens me that there are so many negative haters out there that live in fear and can’t accept that love exists. It truly does not matter in the slightest that these artists/lovers had seen each other in between the China Wall experience and her great art piece at MOMA. All we ever really have is This Moment. There is no past or future. Just BE in this moment. And in this moment captured forever on film we see the essence of Love expressed in a way we can all see. It is elevated to art because we are witnessing a moment of intimacy in which the vulnerability of the artist is palpable and accessible to all of us witnessing it. In sharing their love story — flawed as all love stories are in real life– the lovers create the myth. Myths are important to society in general. Myths provide example and by doing so create the feeling “Hey, I could do that, too! I could love. I could be loved. I could strive to be that wonderful!” …this is the benefit of witnessing something like this. When we open our hearts to love we expose our deepest selves. To criticize and to judge is to diminish spirit within others but also within ourselves because perhaps we are too frightened to live at a higher level of consciousness.

    • Could not have said it better myself. . .

    • I LOVE your response. WELL SAID!!!!!

    • Powerful words…..thank you for sharing this. I gave up on love a long time ago and this video gives me a little bit of hope that it may happen for me again. Doesn’t matter how many times they have seen each other……these emotions are real and I cry every single time I watch it.

    • Diane De Martini says:

      This film has touched me deeply. Does anyone know the reason that they parted at all? I know Ulay had cancer. Was it lung cancer and is he still alive? I hope so. A great artist and human being. Thank you.

      • They parted because supposedly they both cheated on each other and he got someone pregnant and he married her .
        Marina told him to marry her.

  8. I know the pain of love that comes to an end. When the biggest love of my life entered my life 30 years later, the depth of love was still felt by both of us. However, the reasons we broke up were still existing and I walked away once again after trying for another 2 1/2 years. When love clashes with reality and serious issues still exist, it’s time to move on. I will always love this man but prefer to do it at a distance. I live thousands of miles away.

  9. maybe the emotion was because a few short months before he was diagnosed with cancer…. forgiveness from both she had been unfaithful and so had he. such is love. or lust….but love this deep can never be forgotten . ever.

  10. Does anyone know what they said to each other as they held hands?

  11. I’m just saying this could have gone a lot worse. This was adorable and everything but if you openly know strangers are going to show up to share a minute of silence somthing going to happen. I’m just happy it wasn’t something bad like a guy that used to beat her or a rapist. Then that Shit would have been awkward.

  12. Michelle Ramsey says:

    I hoped that they got Back together.. They really loved each other and True love never Dies.. It is Heart wrenching when you separate with the love of ur life ur one True love.. U never get over it.. It is hard and painful.. And it lasts a life time the feelings that intense never Die it stays with you Forever.. Please keep me updated on the two of them…..

    • Christine Groves says:

      You are so right Michelle. Only once in your life there is a love that stays with you no matter what. It still hurts even after all this time but life goes on. I have only one regret in my life and I will have to live with it. This video was beautiful and brought a lot of emotions to the surface again.

  13. I found Marina and Ulay so moving..I cried all day when I first saw it. and I have watched it every day since… It reminds me of my situation.. An ex husband lives in another state and we have not spoken or seen each other in about 30 years.. He is the one who sent me this video to watch and said he would love to just stare into my eyes again…Who knows, perhaps that will happen for us one day..

    • My ex husband and I also had not seen each other in 30 years until two months ago. It was a very emotional reunion and a beautiful moment. We are in touch every day now and have met twice more since. He sent me this video today and I am in floods. He was the love of my life and father of my only child. Our feelings are as they were 30 years ago but we are a now both married to other people. What an emotional time. I hope everything works out for you.

  14. Laoghaire Ravenswood says:

    I’m just curious if they met after the Live Art Performance and had coffee or drinks? I realize people grow apart, but it would be nice to learn they did spend some time together after the show.

    • Diane De Martini says:

      I wonder also.

      • If you watch her documentary you will see that they had met and talked just *before* the show began. He came and sat opposite her on the first day – he was the third sitter:

        Starre is also wrong to say that people sat opposite Marina for “a minute”. They sat for as long or as short as they wanted to. One man sat opposite her for an entire day!

        • What I find most moving in the video is her struggle, after Ulay has left, to clear her mind and compose herself again so that she can focus 100% on the next sitter. You can see that it takes her several attempts to do so. Her commitment to what she had undertaken to do – to give to each individual who sat opposite her her full, undivided attention – was incredible.

          I had the great privilege of meeting her a year ago and she is a truly remarkable person.

          • That feeling of smiling at your child after feeling defeated in all other aspects…. to not pretend but be there…. back in front of the human being standing … n is no stranger….

  15. Obviously very powerful and I assume very real emotions. Unfortunately they met earlier in the day (he was a guest of honor at the show) and a handful of times over the decade. At the very least it seems she knew he was there. Ive read/heard this a few times now. Check out the link below.

  16. I can’t get the song out of my head, or the expressions in their eyes…..I saw a video tpwhere they are driving together in these later years, I believe it was after he had his bout with cancer….so they’ve obviously kept in contact….but there is no denying this moment was as genuine as their love and relationship was and obviously still is. They’ll always have the connection….so deep, so beautiful and really….a fantasy of so many to have happen to them. Beautiful .

  17. Hi, its really touched me. Anyone know what they said to each other as they held hands? Did they continue the relationship after 2010?

  18. Allan Botha says:

    Very powerful…you can like almost see the hurt,pain,love,joys,happiness…its almost as if u can see their lifestory in her eyes…the tears says it all…i choked up too!

  19. My first husband and I parted when I was in my 20s. We also didn’t see each other for 30 years.
    Two months ago we met again. I don’t know how Marina and Ulay they kept their hands of each other, we were in bits and couldn’t let each other go!! It was very emotional to watch this video.
    I would love to know what happened next 🙂

  20. When you look at their eyes I don’t why but I see the beach, two lovers and a LOOOOT of memories. It made me wonder, will I ever have such a moment if I see someone, if human feelings would ever be as true as Marina and Ulay. You can see through their eyes the love, the memories and the hurting. Its amazing how you could witness so many years and emotions through seconds looking into someone’s eyes. It’s extraordinary what eyes can show and for those who can see things through them, I suppose those who share negative thoughts about the artists probably couldn’t see the chemistry between their eyes, they just looked through them. We need more people in our world today, with REAL eyes..

    • Diane De Martini says:

      That was beautifully said. I am completely touched by this relationship and this video. The pain must have been intense.

  21. I was touched. I can feel the love they have for each other. Cant help myself from crying.

  22. Really enjoyed

  23. I saw a video of the two of them had to be after she saw him at her opening…. He was driving her and she had him stop and she took over driving for the first time…then they went to a house I think it was hers and she fixed dinner and they both talked about things

  24. The Bishop of Pitch a Wang Dang Doodle says:

    Two Performance Artists doing what Performance Artists do…..Performance Art.

  25. And then he sued her.

  26. Barbara Manners says:

    It’s all beautiful. If you look at the performance she is so dark and tall and mysterious and Regal dressed in red. And he seems so handsome tattered artistic looking intense. But in real life I think that was a very difficult moment and probably had a lot to do with his claiming the performance as part of something that they had done before. He used that very performance and her show as evidence in a court case testifying that she tried to steal this performance art from something that they had collaborated on before. Love is wonderful until it’s stops. If you read her interview about this performance and their meeting beforehand, she is very angry disappointed and bitter about their relationship and how it ended. She said the walk across the wall in China was so long that he had in deed time to impregnate his guide… Those words had to burn as they left her mouth. He went on to sue her but not before he went out of his way to make it difficult for her to have any of their former collaboration a part of her life. The art was their income and there was a tug-of-war clearly between the two of them. Love is beautiful and touching and wonderful until it dies. What you saw was performance art that was calculated and thought and negotiated very strategically from two different perspectives completely but none the less it was about finances. That being said if you did not know the background story it was very beautiful and touching.

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