For over 25 years, performance has formed the basis of her work in sound, performance, photography, video, and sculpture. In multimedia Abramovic tests and pushes the boundaries of physical and mental endurance. In front of audiences, she has cut herself with knives and razor blades, taken mind-altering drugs, frozen her body, and flagellated herself, breaking the body to free the mind.
Abramovic has had many solo performances and exhibitions in the US and in Europe, including the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (1985); Musée national d'art moderne, Paris (1990); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (1993); and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1995). Group exhibitions include the Venice Biennale (1976 and 1997); Documenta 6 and 7, Kassel, Germany (1977 and 1982); and the Biennale of Sydney, Australia (1979 and 1982).
While in Amsterdam in 1975, Abramovic met the artist Ulay (b. Solingen, West Germany, 1943). In 1976 the couple began a 12-year collaboration as an "androgynous entity", uniting the opposites, male and female, and working as one artist. The couple's collaboration also ended in performance: in The Great Wall Walk (1988), they started walking from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China. After three months and 1,250 miles, they met in the middle for the last time.
In the years since 1988, Abramovic's work has included "transitional objects" and "power objects" which invite audience participation while creating a mood of concentration and stillness. She has also been a teacher, visiting professor, and professor in Yugoslavia, France, and Germany at various times in her career. The artist lives and works in Amsterdam.