Performance artist, Frank Uwe Laysiepen, who became famous under the name Ulay, at the age of 77, lost in the fight against cancer and died a week ago. He was Marina Abramovich's lover and art partner. For twelve years of joint creativity, they have created many innovative performances about understanding the various sides of love, and not only human relationships. Ulay's artwork is of course not limited to just promotions with Marina. What was the artist like during his lifetime and what art heritage did he leave behind?
Ulay and Marina were intertwined with their hair, naked depicted a doorway through which people passed, breathed in one breath, until they lost consciousness … Their art performances, philosophical and memorable, gained extraordinary popularity. The visual artist was born in Germany in 1943. From the very beginning of his career, he was not like anyone else.
He was one of the first to use Polaroid photography in art. He himself described his work in the 70s as follows: “It was a time of beauty and aesthetics in art, and I belonged to those who deliberately chose seemingly unacceptable art means. My work is performance, video, photography and a complete rejection of aesthetics. I studied my own body, I was the main subject. For the most part, I was misunderstood and rejected."
The performances of those times, according to Ulay, were designed to emphasize the ephemeral nature of human individuality. The artist has demonstrated this in various ways. For example, he could dress in a white overalls and a mask, stand against a wall with a photosensitive canvas, ask someone from the gallery visitors to stand there, and shoot him on a Polaroid.
From the flash, the canvas turned black, and a white spot remained from the figure of the person, his place was taken by the artist and the projection of the photo taken was made onto his white clothes. Thus, Ulai appropriated the identity of the sealed one. Among the works of those years there was one out of the ordinary case. Ulay, while visiting the New National Gallery in Berlin, stole a painting. He took it out of the museum and hung it on the wall in the home of a poor Turkish family. In this way, the artist protested that art is available only to the bourgeoisie. For this he suffered, of course, a well-deserved punishment, because whatever one may say, theft is a crime.
In the mid-70s, Ulay met Marina Abramovich. A spiritual kinship arose between them at all levels. They were united for many years not only by creativity, but also by passionate love. Their joint performances simply amazed with their creative frankness, courage, freedom and demonstrations of the fusion of the feminine and masculine principles.
To visualize the idea of unlimited trust in each other, Marina and Ulay presented the performance "Rest Energy / Residual Energy" to the public in 1980. For four minutes, Abramovich held a bow, the bowstring and arrow of which was held by Ulay. The arrow was aimed directly at Marina's heart. The price of such a performance could be her life. During this, the heartbeat of both was heard through the microphone.
The couple even planned to get married.But Ulai could not remain faithful and Marina left. It happened very dramatically. The artists were planning a joint performance. They were supposed to meet in the center of the Great Wall of China, symbolizing the fusion of two earthly elements. To do this, Marina began her journey from the sea, and Ulai - from the desert. While the administrative issues with the Chinese authorities were being resolved, a breakup took place, and the meaning of the performance radically changed its meaning.
The former lovers met after many years at the performance of Abramovich "In the presence of the artist." Five years later, Ulay filed a lawsuit against Marina for underpayment of finances and misappropriation of their joint projects. He won the trial. The artist took offense at him, considering it an unfair attempt to tarnish her reputation. After some time, Ulay and Abramovich figured out the relationship and said that they had forgiven each other.
The master of performance was diagnosed with cancer in 2011. After that, Ulay decided to arrange a symbolic farewell to family and friends, and set out on a journey for this purpose. During the trip, all the artist's actions were filmed by a cameraman. It became Ulay's farewell art project. In it, he demonstrated the process of undergoing chemotherapy, and meeting with different people, and philosophical reflections on art. The end of the film was crowned with a very touching, almost intimate scene. In it, the artist looks thoughtfully into the distance and says: "Yes, it's beautiful." Then he turns, looks at the camera and says to the viewer: "You are beautiful."
The name of Marina Abramovich is well-known even among those who are not particularly interested in art, she is the most famous performance artist in the world. Ulay became widely known and popular with the public, mainly due to their joint projects. Despite the fact that the artist had personal exhibitions in Amsterdam, Berlin, Athens and Ljubljana. There were iconic performances such as the three-day Cutting Through the Clouds of Myth in New York. But it was precisely his joint work with Marina that was so vividly imprinted in the memory of people.
The most unforgettable event was their meeting at the performance “In the presence of an artist”. The bottom line was that Marina had to look into the eyes of anyone who wants to sit across from her. Ulay appeared unexpectedly, sitting opposite, made her cry. When the lovers joined hands, the audience applauded. Their art has always had a strong influence on people. After his death, Marina wrote: “It was with great sadness that I learned about the death of my friend and former partner. He was an exceptional artist and a man who would be sorely missed. On this day, it's nice to know that his art and legacy will live forever."
Read more about contemporary performance art in our article. the most extravagant performances.
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