This photograph and sketch are part of a series documenting The Lovers: Great Wall Walk, a physical and spiritual trek undertaken from opposite ends of China’s Great Wall by Serbian artist Marina Abramović and her then collaborator, the German-born, Amsterdam-based artist Ulay.
Conceived in 1983 and realised in 1988, the performance lasted three months. Abramović walked two thousand kilometres westward from Shanhaiguan, the wall’s easternmost point, in Qinhuangdao, known colloquially as the ‘dragon’s head’. Ulay walked the same distance eastward from the ‘dragon’s tail’ at Jiayuguan, the wall’s westernmost point, in Gansu Province. Upon meeting near Erlang Shan temple in Shenmu, Shaanxi Province, the couple embraced—a signal that they would not marry, but end their twelve-year professional and personal partnership instead.
In the photograph, Abramović walks along a section of the wall in near ruin amidst an otherwise barren landscape. Paired with a drawing of a female figure emitting fluids from her eyes, breasts, and genitals, the work suggests the physical and emotional toll of Abramović’s undertaking.