News that John Kaldor’s pioneering Kaldor Public Art Projects will bring Marina Abramović: In Residence to Sydney in July sent a wave of excitement through UNSW Art & Design.

This sense of anticipation simultaneously reflects the extraordinary presence of the artist, admiration for John Kaldor’s longstanding commitment to contemporary art and culture - and a little known and intriguing shared history between our community and the renowned artist earlier in her career.

In 1981 when performance artists Marina Abramovic and Ulay were in Sydney for a major work - Gold Found by the Artists at the Art Gallery of NSW, they conducted a workshop with local art students from the then Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education, now UNSW Art & Design.

Coordinated by then Lecturer and later Dean, Professor Ian Howard, the group headed for a remote bushland setting in Northern NSW.  Here, Marina and Ulay took the willing participants through a weeklong workshop of self-awareness, sensitivity and motivational exercises culminating in extraordinary performances by all involved.

The student participants were selected from various levels of the undergraduate art course and from the fledgling Graduate Diploma program, each student chosen because of his or her interest in and experience with performance art.

Over the week Marina and Ulay pushed, encouraged and inspired individuals and the group to test the limits of ideas and the expressiveness of the body through inner awareness and externalised performative acts, all linked to and influenced by the surrounding environment.

Just as Marina Abramovic and Ulay went on to stellar careers in the arts, so too have participants from this seminal ‘bush retreat’ workshop.

Closer to Marina Abramović: In Residence we will share some of the details of this historic encounter  - including rarely seen film - and explore its enduring impact on the students and staff who participated. 

UNSW Art & Design is a Public Program Collaborator with Kaldor Public Art Projects.

To learn more about how you can get involved in Marina Abramović: In Residence visit