10 Jan 2015

Screenings of the documentary Project Cancer (2013), on the life and work of the artist Ulay. 

The documentary will be screened twice, at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Entrance price to the museum + € 2,50
Teijin Auditorium, Stedelijk Museum
10 Jan 2015, 12.30 pm until 4 pm
Main language
Not required

The Public Program is delighted to welcome the artist Ulay to the Stedelijk Museum for a series of events around his recent work and practice, including the new performance A Skeleton in the Closet on January 15, a book launch and public interview with performance scholar Amelia Jones on January 9, and a screening of the documentary Project Cancer (2013) on January 10. Perhaps best known for a series of intensely physical collaborations with Marina Abramović between 1976 and 1988, Ulay has spent five decades blazing a trail of unwavering vitality and unquestionable integrity. His independent work in photography as well as performance is among the most innovative and groundbreaking in 20th century and contemporary art. This stedelijk|film afternoon is dedicated to the Dutch premiere of Project Cancer (2013), the documentary by Damjan Kozole about the life and work of artist Ulay.

In 2011, soon after he moved to Ljubljana, Ulay was diagnosed with cancer. Framed by his battle with the disease – and subtitled Ulay’s Journal from November to November – this documentary gives space for a vital retrospective on his career. The first scenes were shot in November 2011 at the Ljubljana Institute of Oncology, where Ulay was receiving chemotherapy. When his health slightly improved, he decided to visit his friends around the world and the camera followed him on this so-called farewell journey: to Berlin for the premiere of Abramović's film, then to New York, and finally to “his” Amsterdam. Project Cancer recounts Ulay’s career via interviews, archival video, photographs, and reproductions of his more ephemeral work. Far from wallowing, however, the consistently upbeat Ulay muses all the while on the nature of life, love, history, and art. More information about Project Cancer.

The documentary will be screened twice, at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.

More information about the artist

Ulay is the pseudonym of Frank Uwe Laysiepen. He 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 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 Polaroid photographs, aphorisms, and intimate performances. At that time, Ulay's photographic approach was becoming increasingly performative and resulted in performative photography (Fototot, 1976). Later, 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 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 breaking with Abramović, 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 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 and enhance understanding and appreciation of – and respect for – water (Earth Water Catalogue, 2012). Ulay's work, as well as his collaborative work with Abramović, is featured in the collections of many major art institutions around the world such as the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Museum of Modern Art New York. 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 currently lives and works between Amsterdam and Ljubljana.