The Other: “Rest Energy”
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Ulay and Abramovic said of the series ‘That Self’: ‘Our interest is relation. With our “Relation work” we cause a third existence, which carries “Vital Energy”. This third energy existence conjured by us does not depend on us any longer, but has its own quality which we call That Self. Three as a number means nothing else but “That Self”.’ ‘That Self’ (1980) actually includes various components, which can also function as separate works. The work opens with three monochrome colour fields – red, blue and yellow – that remain on the screen for some time. This is accompanied by a sustained tone, which now and then becomes slightly higher. After this non-figurative opening, ‘That Self’ continues with four performances, especially executed for the purpose of this film. The common starting point of these separate components is hypnosis. Ulay and Abramovic said: ‘We had training in hypnosis. Our aims were to search and explore the subconscious. We chose to realize three colour fields and four visions which were described by us under that treatment. The four visions were translated into performances for film.’ These performances are not about extending limits by means of physical exhaustion, but rather, about the power of concentration. In ‘Point of Contact’ (January/August 1980, film studio, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and summer 1980, Dublin, Ireland), Ulay and Abramovic, both dressed in black trousers and jacket, with a white shirt underneath, stand face-to-face. They look into each other’s eyes, and, with arms bent, point their forefingers at each other. Without realizing it themselves, Ulay and Abramovic are holding their fingers at practically the same height during the six minutes of the performance. Their fingertips are almost touching. ‘Rest Energy’ (January/August 1980, Filmstudio, Amsterdam) is the second work in this series of four.