Ulay Foundation Project Space in Slovenia

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Photo by Wolfgang Wesener

Ulay Foundation Project Space, which opened its door at the end of 2019, is based in the Ljubljana – capital of Slovenia. Project Space connects the eventful local with the international cultural scene in Ljubljana.

While organizing, producing and hosting public talks, lectures, seminars, smaller exhibitions of various artists of all generations, performances, (poetry)-readings, workshops, and film screenings, independently or with partner institutions, Ulay Foundation Project Space aims to offer its premises to selected pop-up events, organized by different cultural and art initiatives without their permanent location in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

About Ulay Foundation

ULAY Foundation is registered in Amsterdam, and it is devoted to preserving and promoting the historically unique oeuvre and the legacy of the one and only; pioneer, provocateur, and the gentlest soul, ULAY.

It is systematically archiving and contextualizing the artist’s work, facilitating discourse, and initiating exhibitions and catalogs. While running its own Project Space in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and a Network of Residencies for emerging artists, the ULAY foundation simultaneously encourages contemporary artists, curators, and scholars to engage with the artist estate in Slovenia.

Ulay Foundation Project Space is located at Igriška ulica 3, in Ljubljana. Drop by and pay them a visit.

Who was ULAY?

From his nude stunts with Marina Abramović to swiping an artwork adored by the Führer, Ulay was a performance art trailblazer.

Photo by Primož Korošec

ULAY, also known as Frank Uwe Laysiepen, who just passed away in March 2020, was incomparable. As a human being and as an artist. The gentlest soul, a giver. A pioneer, a provocateur, an activist, a mentor, a colleague, a friend, a father, a husband, family. A seeker of light. A lover of life. A traveler. A fighter. A brilliant thinker, who has been pushing limits and enduring pain. Selfless and fearless, ethical, elegant, witty. He, who has influenced so many.

“One can learn many things in life, but not art. The madness you need – the must which is shaking you all the time. You are an artist even when you are asleep. Because of the must.”

ULAY was an exceptional artist, the pioneer of polaroid photography and performance art. He was born on November 30, 1943 in Solingen, Germany. ULAY had left Germany at the end of the 1960s, and went to Amsterdam where he joined a Dutch anarchist movement, the Provos. As a consultant for Polaroid International Amsterdam, he had unlimited access to film and cameras; he traveled to London, Paris, Rome, and New York and began to experiment with art photography.

In the early period of his artistic activity (1968–1976) ULAY undertook a thematic search for understandings of the notions of identity and the body on both the personal and communal levels, mainly through series of aphorisms, Polaroid photographs, and intimate performances. He introduced the term “performative photography”.

“Everyone gets somewhere. It’s not just me. Everyone eventually gets somewhere. Death is the ultimate answer. But life is absolute.”

After four decades of living and working in Amsterdam, and undertaking several long-term artistic projects in India, Australia, and China, and a professorship of Performance and New Media Art at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe in Germany, Ulay spent the last years of his live with his wife, family and friends, based in Ljubljana and between Ljubljana and Amsterdam. 

Working with Marina Abramović

From 1976 to 1988, Ulay collaborated with former partner Marina Abramović. Their 12-year relationship was turbulent and fraught, but it was one of the most fertile and celebrated artistic partnerships of the 20th century. Together, they broke new ground with their pioneering performance art, propelling each other into new, evermore extreme and unexplored realms of emotional discomfort and physical endurance; testing the capabilities of the body and the spirit, questioning perceived masculine and feminine traits.

Living and working together they made a commitment to each other, as expressed in the Relation Work’s “Art Vital” manifesto: “Art Vital: No fixed living place, permanent movement, direct contact, local relation, self-selection, passing limitations, taking risks, mobile energy”. Through their performances they became indisputable icons of performance art. 

After breaking with Abramović, Ulay focused on photography, addressing the position of the marginalized individual in contemporary society (series Can’t Beat the Feeling – Long Playing Record, 1992 including a series of portraits of New York Afro-American judges and homeless; Aboriginal Afterimages, 1997; Luxembourg Portraits II, 1997) and re-examining the problem of nationalism and its symbols (Berlin Afterimages, 1994–1995).

The foundation, registered in Amsterdam, and Project Space is dedicated to the young, based in Ljubljana, and it is here to take care of his legacy and keep Ulay’s spirit alive.

Source: Ulay Foundation