At the opening of an exhibition in June 1977 at the Museum of the Galleria d’Arte Moderna Bologna, Abramovic/Ulay stood naked at the entrance opposite each other in such a way that the people streaming in had to squeeze singly through the gap between the two, unable to avoid physical contact. The crucial factor was that everybody had to decide whom to look at as they passed. In this performance, they are forming a physical frame, confronting the involuntary participants passing through the “birth canal” with the experience of touch, the decision which side to face, and exposing them all to an unfamiliar bodily sensation between shame and an awareness of their own bodies, and to close physical contact with another human being which is generally considered disturbing between strangers. The gap between the two protagonists constitutes the actual performance space in which the viewer plays an active part. It is fitting that this action is placed in a museum where people go as spectators, learning at the very entrance that they are involved themselves.
Posted by David C. Wood