Marina Abramović’s Former Partner Sues Seeking Credit for Joint Works

The duo may appear in court later this month.

Marina Abramović,
Marina Abramović, The Artist Is Present (2010), Museum of Modern Art, New York. Abramović's former partner Ulay joins her during her performance at her career retrospective.

Controversial performance artist Marina Abramović is being sued by her former creative and romantic partner Frank Uwe Laysiepen, known as Ulay.

Fans may remember the touching moment in the Matthew Akers’ documentary on Abramovic’s retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, when Ulay made a surprise appearance, and tears streamed down the Slavic artist’s cheeks. But this goodwill was apparently short-lived.

According to the Guardian, Ulay alleges that Abramović kept the royalties for works that they created when they were together. He claims Abramović has violated the terms of a 1999 contract that stipulated that the two artists would share recognition for the works in question.

Ulay told the Guardian that he has not been properly attributed or compensated for the collaborative works, saying, “The whole oeuvre has made history. It’s now in school books. But she has deliberately misinterpreted things, or left my name out.”

Marina Abramović & Ulay, performing Breathing In Breathing Out at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1978)Photo via: Phaidon

Marina Abramović & Ulay, performing Breathing In Breathing Out at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1978).
Image: Courtesy of Phaidon.

Abramović’s lawyer has dismissed the allegations, stating that his client “totally disagrees.” Ulay asserts that Abramović asked galleries to remove his name as a co-author, and, “contrary to the terms of the contract, has failed to provide him with accurate statements of sales.” The kicker is that the suit alleges that Abramović “has paid him only four times in the course of 16 years,” according to the Guardian.

The duo may have to appear in Amsterdam district court later this month.

This hasn’t been a good year for Abramović. In May, “Picasso Baby” video producer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn of Salon 94 provided artnet News proof of donation after Abramović accused rapper Jay Z of not making a promised gift to her performance art institute in upstate New York.

On a more macabre note, the Netherlands’ capital city is among the three places Abramović reportedly wants to be buried (allowing if two of the bodies are fakes).


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