Ulay and Marina Abramović’s Iconic Performance Art Moment Recreated in the Video Game Animal Crossing

In 2000, the performance artist Marina Abramović presented her iconic piece The Artist is Present. During the show, Abramović’s ex-lover and fellow performance artist Ulay, who passed away recently, arrived at the venue and sat across her. Tears shed from their eyes when they held each other’s hands silently. Who would have thought that this seminal performance can be re-created in the wildly popular video game Animal Crossing

The iconic moment of Ulay (left) holding his ex-lover Marina Abramović’s hands

Recreation of The Artist is Present in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a video game where one can escape from the real world to their island utopia and live with animal friends. As there are no specific rules to the game, you can build your own island community however and whenever you want. 

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, video games are a main source of entertainment for many who struggle to keep their minds occupied during social distancing. 

In the game, players can virtually interact by visiting other player’s islands and sharing resources. Shing Yin Khor, who re-created The Artist is Present in the game, took advantage of this feature. Khor dressed her avatar in a red dress and sat it on a wooden chair against a wooden table which she crafted in the game. Other players were invited into her house and sat on the opposite side to recreate this iconic scene. Perhaps the only flaw of this “Animal Crossing art piece” is the avatar’s inability to tear up. 

Shing Yin Khor is an installation artist

The game has little restrictions which allows players to build their community however they want to 

Khor invited other players to her house to recreate the iconic performance art piece

Shing Yin Khor joked about building the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in the game as The Artist is Present was first presented at the museum. Khor has also recreated other pieces of art in Animal Crossing. However, due to the limitations of materials and resources, mimicking artworks is not an easy task in the game. 

Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty is built with mud, precipitated salt crystals and basalt rocks

Khor recreated Spiral Jetty with rocks on the beach in Animal Crossing

Khor also recreated the Spiral Jetty, an earthwork sculpture constructed by the American sculptor Robert Smithson. The original work is a spiral built with mud, precipitated salt crystals and basalt rocks on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) famous photo spot Urban Light, built by American artist Chris Burden, was also recreated in Animal Crossing. Khor made use of street lights to build a simplified version of the piece as street lights are hard to come by in the game. 

If you are also a player of Animal Crossing, why not also try to create some artworks to spice up your virtual island life? 

The installation art piece Urban Light at the LACMA

Khor created a simplified version of Urban Light in Animal Crossing