Biography / CV
Ulay is the pseudonym of Frank Uwe Laysiepen. He was born in 1943 in Solingen, Germany. Ulay was formally trained as a photographer, and between 1968 and 1971 he worked extensively as a consultant for the company Polaroid. In the early stages of his artistic activity( 1968-1976) he undertook a thematic search for understandings of the notions of identity and the body on both the personal and communal level, mainly through series of Polaroid photographs, aphorisms and intimate performances. At that time, Ulay’s photographic approach was becoming increasingly performative and resulted in performative photography (such as the series Exchange of Identity,1974, and Fototot,1976).
In the later stage of his early work, performative tendencies within the medium of photography were transformed completely into the medium of performance and actions (There Is a Criminal Touch to Art, 1976). From 1976 to 1988, he collaborated with Marina Abramovic on numerous performances: their work focused on questioning perceived masculine and feminine traits and pushing the physical limits of the body (Relation Works). After the break with Abramovic, Ulay focused on photography, addressing the position of the marginalized individual in contemporary society, and re-examining the problem of nationalism and its symbols( berlin Afterimages, 1994-1995). Nevertheless , although he was working primarily in photograph, he remained interested in the question of the “performative”, which resulted in his constant” provocation” of audiences through the realization of numerous performances, workshops and lecture-performances. In recent years, Ulay has been mostly engaged in projects and artistic initiatives that raise awareness, enhance understanding and appreciation of, and respect for, water ( Earth Water Catalogue, 2012). ULay’s work, as well as his collaborations with Marina Abramovic, is featured in many collections of major art institutions around the world, such as Centre Pompidou, MOMA New York, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, etc.
After four decades of living and working in Amsterdam, several long-term artistic projects in India, Australia and China, and a professorship of Performance and New media Art at the Staatliche Hochschule fur Gestaltung In Karlsruhe, Germany, Ulay currently lives and works alternatively in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Ljubljana Slovenia.
Upcoming and recent solo exhibitions and performances include:
Ulay Lifesize, curated by Mattias Ulrich for Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (DE, 2016)
Evergreen, program curated by Andre Notz, Cabaret Voltaire, Manifesta 11 Zurich, (CH, 2016)
Invisible Opponent, curated by Adelina von Fürstenberg for Art For the World, Musee d’art et histoire Geneve, (CH, 2016)
Watermark / Cutting Through the Clouds of Myth, Kustera Projects in Red Hook, Brooklyn, (US, 2016)
Ulay, What Is This Thing Called Polaroid? , curated by Frits Gierstberg, Nederlandse Fotomuseum Rotterdam (NL, 2015)
A Skeleton in the Closet, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (NL, 2015) Code of Conduct, 5th Thessaloniki Performance Biennale (GR, 2015)
Early Works of Ulay, Acik Ekran Yeni Medya Sanatlari Galerisi Istanbul (TR, 2015)
Retouching Bruises, Art Basel Feature Section/Mot International (CH, 2015)
Project Cancer, Motovun Film Festival, Zagreb (HR, screening, 2014)
“Da is eine kriminelle Berührung in der Kunst”, Venice International Performance Art Week, Venice (IT, screening, 2014)
Ulay, Mot International Gallery London (UK, 2013)
Ich bin Ich: Ulay on Ulay, curated by Maria Rus Bojan and Marta Gnyp for Salon Dahlmann, Berlin (DE, 2013)
Whose Water Is It? Maribor (SI, 2012)
The Great Wall Walk, C-Space Beijing, (CN, 2011)
Ulay in Patagonia, Outline Foundation Amsterdam, (NL, 2010)
Ulay – Retrospective, curated by Maria Rus Bojan, MB Art Agency Amsterdam (NL, 2010)
Exhibitions at GNYP
Black Skull, Large Polaroid / Polacolor, 1992, 206,6 x 112 cm, unique from the series Long Playing Record