Exhibition dates: 28 January – 1 February 2017
Venue: DEPART Foundation, 9105 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90069

Los Angeles, CA.,–DEPART Foundation announced that it will present Ulay: The Animist, its first solo exhibition and the first West Coast presentation for German artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen, known by his pseudonym – Ulay (b.1943).

This landmark exhibition highlights key features of his oeuvre, unfolding the main trajectories that draw on his performances and photographic works. A pioneer of body art, performance art and Polaroid photography, Ulay is well known for Relation Works – his collaborative period with Marina Abramović, between the years 1976 and 1988. Recently, Ulay’s individual work achieved newfound attention, culminating with the 2016 retrospective exhibitions at Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Nederlandse Fotomuseum, Rotterdam and GNYP Gallery Berlin.

The Animist unfolds Ulay’s individual oeuvre by exploring the hidden connections between seemingly disparate aspects of his work and his passionate life. The exhibition traces the genealogy of Ulay’s self-performative Polaroid photography from the early 1970s to the life size experiments he conducted with large format Polaroid technique in the 1990s. This presentation also includes photographic documentations of his travels throughout China and Australia, bringing together a body of works that truly reflects the artist’s underlying preoccupation with the expression of reality in its most immediate and intense form.

The show takes its title The Animist from a 1995 performance of the same name, in which Ulay tests the boundaries of perception and public participation through a subversive combination of sounds and ritual gestures. Considering the metaphor of “the animist” as the most appropriate expression of the core of Ulay’s work – a figure that joins together and reconfigures the relation between the spiritual and material world – the exhibition invites viewers to discover the artist’s intense experiences and insights into what constitutes Reality.

Ulay’s commitment to showing life in its most basic, raw, and truthful form poses an existential and ethical dimension, where the Polaroid is the preferred medium to embody his take on reality by capturing the image’s process of becoming. At a retrospective glance, these images stand out through a personal aesthetic purged of emotion and stylistic artifices. They go beyond the crust of conventional thought in order to penetrate at the heart of what constitutes subjective reality, thus encouraging us to fundamentally reconsider our relationship with ourselves and with the world.

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 Polaroid. In the early period of his artistic activity (1968–1976) he explored identity and the body through a series of Polaroid photographs, aphorisms, and intimate performances. At that time, Ulay’s photographic approach was becoming increasingly performative and resulted in performative photography (FOTOTOT, 1976). From 1976 to 1988, he collaborated with Marina Abramović 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 Marina, 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 photography, he remained connected to the question of the ‘performative’, which resulted in his constant ‘provocation’ of audiences through numerous performances, workshops and lecture-performances. In recent years, Ulay is 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 collaborative work with Marina Abramović, is featured in many collections of major art institutions around the world such as Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Centre Pompidou Paris; Museum of Modern Art New York.

DEPART Foundation
DEPART Foundation provides an alternative platform for creative experimentation and exploration, set within a global context, that thrives outside of conventional, cultural structures. The impact of its work can best be understood as the charting of new artistic destinations with every project and program it undertakes
Since its founding in 2008, DEPART Foundation has served as a catalyst for the Italian art and cultural community, strengthening the dialogue between Italy and the international art world. Like multiple outposts in Europe and U.S., DEPART Foundation has actively encouraged artistic production through sponsorship of young and established artists and the provision of spaces and resources conducive to the research, production and exhibition of new work, and to the presentation of educational and public programs.
Some of the most interesting and dynamic artists of our time, from around the world, have been presented for the first time in Rome by DEPART Foundation. They include Cory Arcangel, Joe Bradley, Nate Lowman, Ryan McGinley, Tauba Auerbach, Darren Bader, Louis Eisner, Roe Ethridge, Sam Falls, Mark Flood, Elias Hansen, Brendan Lynch, Oscar Murillo, Sarah Braman, Seth Price, Jon Rafman, Stephen G. Rhodes, Amanda Ross-Ho, Sterling Ruby, Lucien Smith, Valerie Snobeck and Frances Stark.
DEPART Foundation in Los Angeles has presented solo exhibitions of work by Gabriele de Santis, Kour Pour, Grear Patterson, Petra Cortright, Mark Horowitz, Giorgio Andreotta Calo, Cameron Platter and Edward S. Curtis.

ULAY | POLAROIDS at the Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam



Opening: 23 January, 5 pm
Exhibition dates: 23 January – 1 May 2016

Nederlands Fotomuseum
Las Palmas Building
Wilhelminakade 332
3072 AR Rotterdam

We are pleased to announce ‘ULAY | POLAROIDS’, the solo exhibition of Ulay at the Nederlands Fotomuseum. It is the first-ever exhibition dedicated solely to his Polaroids. It will feature both his early and most recent works, some of which will be on loan from the Rabo Art Collection, partner of this exhibition, documentary and publication.

Ulay (born in Solingen, Germany, 1943) pioneered the use of the Polaroid as an art medium and is widely known for his unusual experiments, such as his ‘Polagrams’, the life-size Polaroids he created by literally ‘stepping into’ a large format camera. One of his Polaroids is more than 2.5m tall.
Ulay was introduced to Polaroid in the late 1960s, when he moved to Amsterdam. Since then, he has spent much of his artistic career working with a Polaroid camera. Owing to his technical aptitude and knowledge, he soon acquired a name as an expert and consultant in the field. Polaroid was happy to provide unlimited supplies of film and the latest cameras for him to use. In the early 1970s Ulay embarked on a very personal search for identity, particularly in relation to social issues and areas of tension between men and women.
Polaroid’s instant photography was a perfect match to his need to registrate his performances. He would photograph himself dressing up and applying his makeup, meticulously capturing each and every move, often creating a complete photo series which he referred to as ‘auto-Polaroids’.
From 1976 until the late 1980s, he was closely involved with Marina Abramović, and their intense personal relationship and creative collaboration lead to radical performances, both in a physical and psychological sense. When they parted ways, Ulay returned to his Polaroid photography once more, though he no longer put himself in front of the camera. Although his quest for personal identity remained a central theme, he now pointed his lens at those in the world around him, people from all social strata – the Aboriginals of Australia, the homeless of New York, the young people of Dordrecht, visitors to the Albert Cuyp market in Amsterdam, and the young models of Chisinau (Moldova).
More recently, his work has highlighted the importance of water in sustaining life on earth. Ulay’s work can now be found in numerous museums as well as corporate and private collections worldwide.

Rabo Art Collection
The Ulay | Polaroids exhibition is a joint project of the Nederlands Fotomuseum, the Rabo Art Collection and Maria Rus Bojan, one of the authors of the book Whispers. Ulay on Ulay (Valiz, 2014), is involved as project consultant. Rabobank – the first commercial organisation in the Netherlands to build its own art collection – has been acquiring Ulay’s work since the 1990s and currently owns a number of his important Polaroid works. Since 2013, Katrin Pietsch, photo restorer at the Nederlands Fotomuseum, has been advising them on the preservation and restoration of their collection, including the Polaroids.

To complement the exhibition, a new publication will be published by Valiz with the generous support of the Rabo Art Collection in close collaboration with the Nederlands Fotomuseum to bring together all current knowledge relating to art preservation and the restoration of Polaroid photography

During the preparations for the exhibition, Charlotte Ebers of AndersDoenProducties will be filming a documentary about Ulay and Polaroid. Made possible through the generous support of the Rabo Art Collection, this film will be showing at the exhibition.


Ulay and the two authors of his monograph: Maria Rus Bojan and Alessandro Cassin have the pleasure to announce that “Whispers: Ulay on Ulay”, published by Valiz Foundation Amsterdam has been awarded the AICA Award 2015 by AICA Netherlands (Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art).

The AICA Nederland Award Ceremony 2015 will take place on
Friday 18 September 2015, 5 – 7 pm
Amsterdam Drawing Fair, NDSM-Plein next to nr. 281033 WB Amsterdam-Noord
(by invitation of AICA Nederland)

Whispers: Ulay on Ulay
Authors: Maria Rus Bojan, Alessandro Cassin
With contributions by: Marina Abramović, Laurie Anderson, Timea Andrea Lelik, Tevž Logar, Thomas McEvilley, Charlemagne Palestine, Lena Pislak, John Reuter, and Silvio Wolf.
Published in 2014 by Valiz Foundation with the generous support of the Mondriaan Foundation, Prins Bernhardt Cultuurfonds and MB Art Agency.

Every year the AICA Award is alternately given to a Dutch institution, a publication or exhibition. For this year’s award the monograph “Whispers: Ulay on Ulay” was chosen from a number of books published during 2013-2015.
This year’s shortlist-jury consisted of the AICA members: Edna Van Duyn, Nat Muller and Wieteke van Zeil.
AICA Netherlands consists of 185 members amongst them art critics, museum curators and museum directors.

From the jury: “The editor Maria Rus Bojan realized a generous book that presents a chronological documentation, spanning more than 40 years of artistic creation, accounting Ulay’s personal artistic philosophy, and also, his ethical and life principles. (…) Published by Astrid Vorstermans and Valiz Foundation Amsterdam this book transcends the usual traditional monograph or catalogue raisonné. In Alessandro Cassin’s interviews the main themes of Ulay’s oeuvre are approached in a non-chronological manner, however both Rus Bojan and Cassin manage to contextualize this body of works both from a critical and art historical perspective. Beyond the introvert and contemplative side of Ulay’s practice, the publisher made a book of international allure aiming to make more comprehensive for a larger audience the lesser-known works of this artist, who used to be for years Marina Abramović’s life and work partner. The book underlines Ulay’s creative development both in relation to his present concerns and the history of the last decades of the art of the 20th century. The images are supporting the text and the full-page illustrations functions like a visual biography. The design by Haller Brun is adequately tailored to the careful approach to content.”

As a response to the AICA Award 2015, Maria Rus Bojan, a member of AICA Nederland herself, said: “My gratitude goes to Ulay for his opening and trust in our editorial project. The sense of his life is the very sense of this book, and we are happy that we were able to emphasize his radical and innovative contribution to the history of performance art and Polaroid photography in the Netherlands and worldwide.  It has been a great experience to collaborate with Alessandro Cassin, a talented interviewer and a wonderful writer from New York City, whose contribution has been essential in accomplishing this endeavor. Many thanks to the other contributors, to Astrid Vorstermans, our publisher, who did literally everything for supporting this publication and to Haller Brun, the designers duo who made this book so beautiful and so appealing to everyone”.

The two other nominated publications are:

  • Hans den Hartog Jager, Het streven. Kan hedendaagse kunst de wereld verbeteren? Amsterdam, Athenaeum Polak & Van Gennep, 2014.
  • Giving and Taking, Antidotes to a Culture of Greed. With contributions by: Peter Sloterdijk, Marcel Hénaff, Zygmunt Bauman, Joris Luijendijk, Frank Vande Veire, Henk Oosterling, Lars Spuybroek, Reimar Schefold, Lewis Hyde, and Arjen Mulder. Ed. Joke Brouwer en Sjoerd van Tuinen. Rotterdam, V2_Publishing / nai010, 2014.

In 2014 the AICA Award was awarded to Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam for the exhibition “The Temptation of AA Bronson”.

Ich bin Ich: Ulay on Ulay

7th September – 6th October 2013, Salon Dahlmann, Berlin,
Curator: Maria Rus Bojan
Ich bin Ich: Ulay on UlayIchbinIch-Twee(nieuw)-1
Text retrieved from Salon Dahlmann:

“A pioneer of Polaroid photography and one of the pivotal figures of European performance art of the 1970s and 1980s, Uwe Laysiepen, better known in the art world as Ulay, is a singular presence among the artists of his generation. His radically innovative past work in partnership with Marina Abramovic has lately reached the highest degrees of critical acclaim worldwide. At the age of 70 however, Ulay finally reveals his best kept secrets: a startling oeuvre, coherently rooted in a personal life philosophy guided by strong ethical principles. This inner moral coherence in his approach to art making is only one of the coordinates that distinguishes him from most of his contemporaries. His works assert his commitment to critical thinking, his rejection of any form of authority and the courage to distance himself from market-based criteria of artistic legitimization. After gaining international notoriety during the 1970s and 1980s, Ulay has pursued his artistic endeavors largely away from the limelight of the media. This exhibition searches for the directional threads that merge the seemingly disparate aspects of his work into an ensemble of passionate pursuits, stemming from a rigorous, inner necessity. What transpires is a life lived without compromises, luminous in its intensity, often intersecting major art and social movements without deviating from his own trajectory. Ich Bin Ich: Ulay on Ulay is not a monographic examination of Ulay’s work, but rather an attempt to explore the connective tissue between his life and work, through a series of selected works spanning several important decades in his creation. Generously hosted by Salon Dahlmann, this exhibition is put together by Marta Gnyp, a Berlin based art historian and art advisor and Maria Rus Bojan, an art historian and curator from Amsterdam who, for the past years has been working on Ulay’s first major monograph, to be published in November 2013 by Valiz Amsterdam.

Biography: Born in 1943, in a bomb shelter in Solingen, Germany, Ulay is a war child. His lifelong struggle with his sense of “Germanity” turned him into a modern nomad, a cosmopolitan free thinker whose identity has never been defined by nationality. In the early 1970s, as a young man, he moved to Amsterdam, attracted by the constructive anarchy of the Provo’s Movement, where he began a lifelong adventure in photography. Analogue photography, Polaroid in particular, became the chosen media for an idiosyncratic body of work spanning from early radical self-examinations (Auto-Polaroid , Photo-Aphorisms, anagrammatic collages) to life-size Polaroids and Polagrams, exploring what Andrè Bazin referred to as “the ontological in the photographic image”. His twelve-year partnership with Marina Abramovic, from 1976 to 1988, produced a radically innovative body of work that explored couple dynamics, pushing the boundaries of physical and mental endurance. Their performances, initially carried out in alternative spaces attracted the attention of museum curators and ushered Performance Art into critical and media attention. Ulay and Abramovic’s final act, the Great Wall Walk, during which they each walked 2000 Km on China’s Great Wall toward each other, epitomizes their wish to blur the separation between life and art. Since the 1980s his travels and encounters with different cultures from the Tibetan Buddhists to Australian Aborigines, have broadened the scope of his humanistic approach and his view of mankind as transcending national, geographic and cultural barriers. His latest interest, the concern with artists’ representations of water, further merges ethical principles with a redefinition of art’s contribution to society.”

Ulay-on-Ulay_SalonDahlmann_06 Ulay-on-Ulay_SalonDahlmann_07 Ulay-on-Ulay_SalonDahlmann_15 Ulay-on-Ulay_SalonDahlmann_02 (1) Ulay-on-Ulay_SalonDahlmann_03 Ulay-on-Ulay_SalonDahlmann_05 Ulay-on-Ulay_SalonDahlmann_09 Ulay-on-Ulay_SalonDahlmann_11 Ulay-on-Ulay_SalonDahlmann_13 Ulay-on-Ulay_SalonDahlmann_14

Tales of the Unexpected

Laurence Aëgerter, John Bock, Rossella Biscotti & Kevin van Braak, Josef Bolf, Călin Dan, Irina Dumitrascu, Liu Gang, Boukje Janssen, Jeroen Jongeleen, Jesper Just, Ana Maria Micu, Ciprian Mureşan, Sanja Medic, Navid Nuur, Ahmet Öğüt, Onno Poiesz, Wilfriedo Prieto, Kathrin Schlegel & Hagen Betzwieser, Daniel de Roo, Ulay, Carine Weve.

Curators: Maria Rus Bojan & Radek Váňa
03.02.2010 – 07.02.2010
Produced by Project Foundation, and MB Art Agency for Art Rotterdam. Hosted by Dek 22 Rotterdam. 

Tales of the Unexpected
Tales of the Unexpected