Project Cancer

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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signs and symbols presents a special film screening of Project Cancer as part of artist & allies II. Framed by his battle with cancer, the documentary Project Cancer traces the life and career of German photographer and performance artist ULAY.

ULAY'S JOURNAL FROM NOVEMBER TO NOVEMBER. The camera follows ULAY, a conceptual artist 
from Amsterdam, for a whole year. ULAY was one of pioneers of body art, performance art and polaroid art; he was a transvestite, a half man - half woman, a social activist..., but he is most famous for his long year collaboration with Marina Abramović and their performances that have achieved iconic status. In 2009, ULAY moved to live in Ljubljana (Slovenia). 
When talks and plans on the film were already under way, Ulay was diagnosed with cancer, and all plans for the film were changed. The first scenes were shot in November 2011 at the
Ljubljana Institute of Oncology, where ULAY was undergoing chemotherapy treatment. 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 Marina's film, then to New York and finally to »his« Amsterdam. ULAY treated his illness as the biggest and most important project of his life, hence the title of the film "Project Cancer".

"It takes a long time, perhaps even a lifetime, to understand ULAY." -- Marina Abramović

director Damjan Kozole
screenwriter Tevž Logar
director of photography Matjaž Mrak
editor Jurij Moškon
music by Silence
sound designer Julij Zornik
producer Danijel Hočevar 
produced by Vertigo
co-financed by Slovenian Film Centre and Media Programme

Ulay / Marina Abramović / Chrissie Iles / Chris Dercon 
RoseLee Goldberg / Saskia Bos / Charlemagne Palestine

and with 
Vlado Kreslin / Chuck Close / Sean Kelly 
Henk “Hanky Panky” Schiffmacher...

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 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, in the late 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 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 the realization of 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: Stedejlik Museum Amsterdam; Centre Pompidou Paris; Museum of Modern Art New York. 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 für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe in Germany, ULAY currently lives and works in Amsterdam and Ljubljana, Slovenia.