Continental Videoseries (1983-1986)

1983-1986, 155:31 min, b&w and color, sound

"To have the most original moment of a culture represented as a living being," Ulay wrote, the artists began a series of works, compiled in Program 1, in which they attempted to evoke the essence of a culture through a symbolic representation of time, place, and people.

The "sacred site" for the metaphorical City of Angels is the ruined temple of Ayutthaya in Thailand, where, posed as tableaux vivants, Thai people are captured in super-natural images of striking visual drama. Arrested in moments of ritual gesture, sculpted in time, they are presented as iconic beings who embody the memory and spirit of traditional Thai culture, at once living and dead. A ritualistic text by Rama VI of Thailand is the haunting accompaniment to this cultural elegy.

In Terra degli dea madre, the artists travelled to Sicily to continue their project of creating living representations of a culture. Again the formal, theatrical device of the tableau vivant is used to lyrical effect, in a metaphorical rendering of time and place. Creating a heightened tension from the dualities of motion and stasis, time and timelessness, male and female, the artists suggest an elemental, almost mystical affinity of the people to their culture and land.

Produced at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Terminal Garden is a cultural study that locates the "sacred site" of contemporary America in a technological environment of media and information. As advertising slogans are spoken in a computer-processed voiceover, the camera methodically pans the Terminal Garden, a technological information research center at M.I.T.'s Media Lab. Motionless children have been positioned throughout this matrix of computer terminals and glowing video monitors, suggesting a culture transfixed by the televised and the transmitted.

Program 2 presents China Ring, an "unedited video notebook" that documents the artists' journey to the Great Wall of China in preparation for their final collaborative project. For this ambitious project, each artist was to walk alone along the length of the Great Wall -- Ulay starting from the western end, Abramovic from the east -- and eventually meet in the middle.

A MonteVideo/TBA, A&U Production


These works are currently unavailable for distribution. For any further inquiries, please contact the EAI office.


Also available on

1975-86, 8:58 hr, b&w and color, sound