woensdag 10 februari 2016

Polaroid Masterpieces Highlights from The WestLicht Collection & Ulay Photography


ULAY | POLAROIDS
The Nederlands Fotomuseum is proud to present the work of internationally renowned artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen, known as Ulay, in 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, our partner in this exhibition, documentary and publication.

Ulay
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 and 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.

Publication
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.

Documentary
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.
See also EVERYTHING OF VALUE IS VULNERABLE: AN INTERVIEW WITH ULAY

In de camera verandert Ulay zijn lijf in beeld

Sandra Smets
9 februari 2016

‘Wat gebeurt hier?' zie je de bezoekers vertwijfeld denken. Het is 1976 en publiek is samengekomen op een fototentoonstelling van Ulay (1943). Tegenwoordig is de Duitse kunstenaar bekend van zijn performances, vooral die met Marina Abramovic, minder bekend is dat hij al jaren fotografeert. Een fototentoonstelling dus in 1976, maar toen het licht aan ging, begonnen de geëxposeerde werken te vervagen. Niet gefixeerd losten de fotografische zelfportretten voor ieders ogen op in een groot zwart niets. Wat het begin van een expositie moest zijn, was meteen het eind.

Ulay / Polaroids. T/m 1 mei in het Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam

Ulay, Self-Portrait, 1990. Polagram, Boston Studio.

Helemaal verloren zijn ze niet, want Ulay heeft deze ‘Fototot’ destijds wel gefilmd. De filmbeelden zijn te zien op een andere tentoonstelling met andere foto’s door Ulay, namelijk zijn polaroids vanaf de jaren zeventig, in het Nederlands Fotomuseum. Deze polaroids bewaart hij in een privédepot in Amsterdam in stof- en vochtdichte kisten – afgekeken van Charlie Chaplins goed geconserveerde filmarchief. „Mensen maken kunst om te communiceren”, aldus Ulay. „Ik niet, ik hamster.”

Dat is niet helemaal waar. De polaroids dienden ooit wel als communicatie: Ulay maakte portretfoto’s die hij meteen aan diegene cadeau gaf – ook een soort performance. De instantfotografie, populair bij zowel kunstenaars als amateurpornografen, werd rond 1970 ontwikkeld door Polaroid. Het hoofdkantoor zat in Amsterdam, waar Ulay eind jaren zestig met een geleende auto en platzak heen trok om zich aan te sluiten bij de Provo’s. Foto’s die snel en ter plekke klaar waren, dat paste bij zijn nomadische bestaan. Hij fotografeerde anderen en zichzelf: veel in travestie, pumps en poses. In die mensbeelden zocht de vroeg wees geworden Ulay zijn identiteit, hopend dat een foto die kan vangen.

Polaroid zag wel wat in Ulays zoektocht en bood hem een ongelimiteerde hoeveelheid film en camera’s. Ook kreeg hij toegang tot een unieke manshoge Polaroidcamera in Boston. Dat leverde magische beelden op. Hij kon er ín de camera kruipen, zijn lijf in beeld veranderend. Het mooiste is een foto uit 1990 waarop hij met zaklampjes tekent op de lens, vervolgens zijn hand erop duwend als signatuur. Hierna volgden meer afdrukken met donker en licht: bijna zwarte stillevens met een brandende kaars of glas water. De combinatie met performancekiekjes uit de jaren zeventig maakt de expositie rommelig, al overlappen ze ook, als een onderzoek hoe je met techniek lichamelijkheid oproept en vasthoudt.

Dat vasthouden werd nog een punt: polaroids bleken minder houdbaar dan gedacht. Dat weet ook de Rabobank, eigenaar van enkele van Ulays foto’s die, door het Fotomuseum extra conserverend behandeld, onderdeel zijn van deze spaarzaam belichte expositie – niet nog een Fototot alsjeblieft.

Polaroid Masterpieces: Highlights from The WestLicht Collection
BY CAROLINE STANLEY JUNE 17, 2011 4:04 PM

Back in March the Vienna-based WestLicht Museum of Photography purchased the International Polaroid Collection from the Swiss Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, saving it from being sold off piecemeal with the rest of the bankrupt company’s holdings. Made up of 4,400 photos by 800 international artists, including such well-known names as Ansel Adams, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Andy Warhol, this massive body of work was shot primarily in the ’70s and ’80s using special custom made cameras and film that was not available on the market — all provided by Polaroid’s founder, Edwin Herbert Land. Beginning today, 350 of the images will go up on display in Austria; click through to view a selection of highlights from the collection, including our absolute favorite — ANDY SNEEZING.

Bruce Charlesworth, Untitled, 1979. Polaroid SX-70. Hand-colored. © Bruce Charlesworth/ WestLicht Collection.
Mark Morrisroe, Nyph-o-maniac, 1983. Polaroid 35mm PolaChrome. Cibachrome print with paint, 10.4 x 15.7″. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe/ WestLicht Collection.
Charles Eames, Untitled, 1975. Polaroid SX-70. © Eames Office, LLC/ WestLicht Collection.
Luigi Ghirri, AMSTERDAM, 1980. Polaroid Polacolor. 20 x 24”. © Eredi di Luigi Ghirri/ WestLicht Collection.
Stephen Shore, Untitled, 1979. Polaroid Type 808. 8 x 10″ © Stephen Shore/ WestLicht Collection.
Auke Bergsma, Red stockings, 1980. Polaroid SX-70. © Auke Bergsma/ WestLicht Collection.
Paul de Nooijer, Fancy Cake IV, 1977. Polaroid SX-70. Triptych. © Paul de Nooijer/ WestLicht Collection.
Robert Heinecken, Untitled 1983. Polaroid Polacolor 20 x 24″. © Robert Heinecken/ WestLicht Collection.
UlayUntitled, 1969. Polaroid Type 665. 3¼ x 4¼”. © Frank Uwe Laysiepen /VBK, Wien 2011/ WestLicht Collection.
Paul Huf, Untitled, 1977. Polaroid Type 808. 8 x 10″. © Paul Huf/ VBK Wien, 2011/ WestLicht Collection.
Sahin Kaygun, Nude, 1983. Polaroid 600 HS. Hand-colored. © Burçak Kaygun/ WestLicht Collection.
Joan Fontcuberta, Untitled, 1981. Polaroid Type 665. Gelatin silver print 10.4 x 10.4”. © Joan Fontcuberta / VBK Wien, 2011/ WestLicht Collection.
Helmut Newton, Untitled, 1976. Polaroid SX-70. © Helmut Newton Estate/ WestLicht Collection.
Andy Warhol, ANDY SNEEZING, 1978. Polaroid SX-70. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc. / VBK, Wien 2011/ WestLicht Collection.
Ansel Adams, Window, Bear Valley, California, 1973. Polaroid Type 55. Gelatin silver print 9.8 x 13.3″. © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust/ WestLicht Collection.
Vicki Lee Ragan, The Princess and the Frogs, 1983. Polaroid Polacolor. 20 x 24″.© Vicki Lee Ragan/ WestLicht Collection.
Oliviero Toscani, Andy Warhol with camera, 1974. Polaroid Type 105. 3¼ x 4¼” © Oliviero Toscani/ WestLicht Collection.
Patrick Nagatani, Cinema II, detail from the image: Alamogordo blues, 1986. Polaroid Spectra © Patrick Nagatani/ WestLicht Collection.
Robert Mapplethorpe, Untitled (Diane), ca. 1974. Polaroid Type 55, 4 x 5″. ©Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation/ WestLicht Collection.

dinsdag 9 februari 2016

Portraits the Moluccan Indonesia Henrij Beingsick (Semarang 1849 – Amboina 1889) Photography


The Dutch East Indies in photographs, 1860-1940

Railroad to Lambarge at PendetiThe years around 1900 marked the heyday of Dutch colonial rule in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Territories outside Java were brought under Dutch rule and the economy was thoroughly modernized. Thought was also given to the future of the indigenous population and its impact on the relations between the Dutch and the native people.

The collection consists of some 3000 photographs from the period between 1860 and 1940. Most of them were taken by professional photographers who took pictures of landscapes and street life, in addition to photographing houses and factories and taking portrait and group photos. Some of them even took to the road to record all the facets of the Dutch East Indies.

The KITLV (the acronym for Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde) is a leading centre for the study of the cultural and social sciences of Indonesia, Surinam, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.


De fotograaf Henrij Beingsick (Semarang 1849 – Amboina 1889)

Het Bataviaasch handelsblad van 02-06-1874 berichtte dat De Rederijkerskamer Adeka een voorstelling had gegeven om geld in te zamelen ten behoeve van slachtoffers van de recente oorlog in Atjeh. Ook was er een acrobatisch optreden van de in Banda tijdelijk verblijfhoudenden fotograaf Henrij Beingsick.  Het Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde heeft elf door hem vervaardigde portret foto’s.  Deze zijn te zien via de website ‘Het Geheugen van Nederland’ [http://www.geheugenvannederland.nl; zoek: “H. Beingsick”].

Populair-gezegd zijn het kleine sepia-kleurige kartonnen kaartjes, met een goud-kleurige rand en de text ‘H. Beingsick, Phot. MOLUKKEN”.  Deze foto’s werden waarschijnlijk in de periode 1870-1885 gemaakt. Twee voorbeelden zijn hier bijgevoegd.

Henrij’s werk wordt gerekend tot dat der pioniers van de fotografie in Nederlands-Indie.  Tien van deze studio-foto’s betreffen leden van de oorspronkelijke bevolking, waarschijnlijk van het eiland Ceram.  Ook is er een elfde foto, namelijk van een oudere, zilver-harige westerling met snor en lange baard, gekleed in keurig grijs pak met zijden vest.  Er zijn veel afdrukken van deze foto’s gemaakt, maar daarop is meestal de naam van de maker, ‘H. Beingsick’ niet aangegeven.

Afdrukken van deze 10 foto’s en van een reeks andere foto’s die zo sterk op deze lijken dat ze vrijwel zeker ook door Henrij Beingsick werden gemaakt, zijn in een aantal verzamelingen terecht gekomen en scans van deze afdrukken zijn op websites van musea en veilingen te zien. Veel van die afdrukken hebben op de achterzijde de naam ‘Woodbury & Page’ staan.  De houders van deze verzamelingen weten in het algemeen niet wie deze foto’s heeft gemaakt.

Wij weten nu – en zijn waarschijnlijk de eersten – dat Henrij Beingsick de fotograaf was.  Voor meer informatie over Henrij en zijn gezin of voor het plaatsen van Uw informatie-bijdragen, zie de forumdiscussie op de website van de Indische Genealogische Vereniging (IGV; http://www.igv.nl/igv-forum/forum-direct/informatie/86-familie-beingsick?limitstart=0&start=88).

Henrij (Harrij) overleed, 39 jaar oud, te Amboina op 24-04-1889.  Zijn vrouw Sarah Theodora Walsen overleed nog geen vier maanden later, 37 jaar oud, te Menado.  Hun vijf kinderen, varierend in leeftijd van 13 tot 6 jaar oud waren wees geworden.  Het leven werd voor de tweede generatie Beingsick niet gemakkelijk.

Wij willen proberen een overzicht te maken van het werk van deze stam-vader van de Indische familie Beingsick. Gezien de kwaliteit van de foto’s, zou dat wel-verdiend zijn!

Wie van U heeft foto’s liggen zoals die van de bijgevoegde voorbeelden, met of zonder Henrij’s naam?
Rudi Kuiper     rudi@netnam.org.vn












donderdag 4 februari 2016

The Artist the Heritage the Museum and the Widow Bas Jan Ader Conceptual Art ...


De kunstenaar, de erfenis, het museum en de weduwe
Nalatenschap Wat gebeurt er als een jong gestorven kunstenaar met een klein oeuvre alsnog doorbreekt naar een groot publiek? In het geval van Bas Jan Ader ontstond een klassiek gevecht.

Arjen Ribbens   3 februari 2016


In krasse bewoordingen laten beide partijen zich over elkaar uit: Sjarel Ex is een halsstarrige en arrogante museumdirecteur. Mary Sue Andersen een kunstenaarsweduwe met dollartekens in haar ogen.

Een kunstenaarsweduwe en een museum die ruziën over een nalatenschap, het is een klassiek gevecht. Zelden zal het er echter zo verbeten aan zijn toegegaan als de afgelopen twee jaar tussen Mary Sue Andersen, de echtgenote van de veertig jaar geleden bij een trans-Atlantisch solozeiltocht vermist geraakte Bas Jan Ader, en Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.

Tot in de rechtszaal regende het beschuldigingen, met name van de kant van de gedaagden, het museum en de gemeente Rotterdam, de eigenaar van de kunstcollectie van Boijmans. „Zo’n lompe, ongefundeerde opstelling verwacht je eerder van een tweedehands autohandelaar dan van een erfgoedinstelling”, zegt Matthijs Kaaks, de advocaat van de eiser.

Het museum kreeg twee keer ongelijk. Eerst in een voorlopig vonnis dat afgelopen zomer werd gewezen, en vorige maand definitief. Directeur Sjarel Ex zocht daarna de publiciteit om de eerder in de rechtszaal geuite beschuldigingen aan een groter publiek te verkondigen. „Iemand moet het zeggen”, zei Ex. „De weduwe vergroot edities, brengt onaffe en ongesigneerde werken van haar man op de markt, en ze speelt partijen voortdurend tegen elkaar uit.”

Een reconstructie van het conflict maakt duidelijk wat er kan gebeuren als een jong gestorven kunstenaar met een klein oeuvre alsnog doorbreekt naar een groot publiek. De druk van de naar kunstwerken hongerende markt wordt dan groot. Net als de belangen van musea die werken van zo’n heilig verklaarde kunstenaar in bezit hebben, of graag zouden willen hebben.

Vliegticket

Twintig jaar lang hadden de weduwe en het museum elkaar lief. In de processtukken zitten tal van vriendelijke mailtjes en in 2006 betaalde het museum nog met plezier een vliegticket voor Andersen, zodat ze de overzichtstentoonstelling van Bas Jan Ader in Boijmans kon bezoeken.


Op die expositie waren ook de zes korte 16-millimeterfilms te zien, waarover de weduwe en het museum in conflict raakten. Deze zwart-witfilmpjes maakten Ader postuum beroemd als een van de belangrijkste conceptuele kunstenaars van zijn tijd. Hartverscheurend huilt hij voor de camera. Hij fietst een gracht in, of hij valt van de nok van zijn huis.

Boijmans kreeg deze films in 1992 in bezit toen het acht fotowerken van Ader aankocht. Op de factuur van Galerie Paul Andriesse, die namens de weduwe bemiddelde, staat een voor de rechtszaak cruciale zin: „Het museum krijgt hiermede ook het vertoningsrecht van alle door Bas Jan Ader gemaakte films, met als voorwaarde de bewaring en conservering van deze films.”

Het museum heeft zich aan die opdracht gehouden. De films zijn schoongemaakt, gerestaureerd en lange tijd geconserveerd bij Cineco, een gespecialiseerd opslagbedrijf. Bij een recente inspectie bleken ze in een uitstekende conditie.

De problemen ontstonden toen Cineco vier jaar geleden failliet ging. Elbrig de Groot, tot 2006 conservator moderne en hedendaagse kunst bij Boijmans, maakte zich daarop zorgen over de films en waarschuwde haar vroegere werkgever en Mary Sue Andersen over de problemen bij het opslagbedrijf. Uit diverse mails tussen museummedewerkers en De Groot ontstond vervolgens de indruk bij de weduwe dat het museum op dat moment niet goed voor de films zou zorgen. De Amerikaanse vroeg haar Nederlandse zaakwaarnemer Margo Andriessen de films op te eisen, zodat ze die bij het filmmuseum Eye in Amsterdam kon onderbrengen.

Acht maanden lang soebatten beide partijen daarna over de films. Een aanbod van Andersen om Boijmans het vertoningsrecht te laten behouden bleef onbeantwoord. Het museum informeerde ondertussen bij oud-conservator Elbrig de Groot, galeriehouder Paul Andriesse en broer Erik Ader om de sleutelzin uit de koopovereenkomst nader te duiden. Allen lieten weten dat daarmee een langdurig bruikleen werd bedoeld, geen koop. Het museum berichtte Andersen niettemin dat het eigenaar is van de films, waarop de Amerikaanse Boijmans en de gemeente eind 2014 dagvaardde.

Doorzichtig voorwendsel

Advocaat Jeroen Princen, bestuurslid van de stichting tot Beheer Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, verdedigde het museum en de gemeente Rotterdam in juni bij de rechtbank Rotterdam. Het museum betwistte de echtheid van de factuur uit haar eigen archief, stelde dat Andersen geen erfgenaam en eigenaar was, en dat zij, „waarschijnlijk uit financiële motieven” handelde. Haar wens om de films bij Eye in bewaring te geven, was „niet meer dan een doorzichtig voorwendsel” om ze daarna „in het commerciële verkeer te brengen”. De opbrengst, stelde de advocaat, zou de weduwe daarna verdelen onder de „ingeschakelde advocaten, galeriehouders, zaakwaarnemers als mevrouw Andriessen en sympathiserende ondersteuners als mevrouw Elbrig de Groot”.

Volgens Boijmans en de gemeente gaf het bovendien geen pas dat Mary Sue Andersen „aan het eind van haar leven” de waardestijging die Boijmans voor het werk had gerealiseerd „om niet tracht te verkrijgen”. Niet alleen had het museum volgens een taxateur in 1992 te veel betaald voor de fotowerken, ook had het veel kosten gemaakt in verband met de bewaring en conservering van de films.

Bas Jan Ader: I’m too sad to tell you, 1970. Collectie Museum Boijmans

De rechtbank had geen boodschap aan die argumenten. De formulering in de koopovereenkomst was de kern van het geschil. En die liet volgens de rechtbank weinig ruimte voor interpretatie. De gedaagden moeten de films teruggeven. Anderzijds kan Mary Sue Andersen zich volgens het vonnis niet eenzijdig onttrekken aan de afspraak dat zij het museum in ruil voor de bewaring vertoningsrecht verleende.

Kortom: de celluloid originelen van de films verhuizen van de opslag van Boijmans naar de opslag van filmmuseum Eye en Boijmans kan blijven doen wat het al deed: kopieën van de films tonen en uitlenen (wat de weduwe een jaar eerder al had aangeboden).

Schikkingsvoorstel

Deze reconstructie is gebaseerd op alle processtukken en gesprekken of e-mailcontact met tien betrokkenen.

Een teleurstellende uitkomst voor Boijmans. Het museum wil per se de originelen in bezit houden. Na het voorlopige vonnis afgelopen zomer deden Boijmans en de gemeente daarom een schikkingsvoorstel. Het museum bood mevrouw Andersen voor elke uitlening een vergoeding van 500 euro.

Geen gering aanbod. De ster van Bas Jan Ader is rijzende. De afgelopen jaren werden zijn films (in kopie) meer dan 130 maal uitgeleend. Voor Boijmans vertegenwoordigen ze een grote waarde, betoogde de advocaat van het museum in de rechtszaal. Met gesloten beurzen kan het museum daardoor kunstwerken lenen van andere musea. De vergoeding voor de weduwe wilde het museum bij bruikleennemers in rekening gaan brengen, zegt directeur Ex.

Mevrouw Andersen ervoer het schikkingsvoorstel als een belediging, zegt haar vertegenwoordiger Margo Andriessen. „Onethisch om te veronderstellen dat het Mary Sue om geld zou gaan.”

Daar moet Ex om lachen. Volgens Boijmans is de weduwe al decennia bezig het oeuvre van haar vermiste man „commercieel uit te nutten”. Ex: „Uit de estate worden steeds opnieuw ongeautoriseerde werken in omloop gebracht.” De weduwe is bezig „inkomen voor haar zoon te creëren”, zegt hij. Als Boijmans het originele filmmateriaal uit handen zou geven, zegt Ex, „dan weten we zeker dat er straks nog meer apocrief materiaal in omloop komt”.

Boijmans, zegt Ex, heeft zich sinds 1992 verantwoordelijk gevoeld voor het oeuvre van de kunstenaar. „Wij betwisten niet dat mevrouw Andersen het auteursrecht op het werk van Ader bezit, maar vinden dat haar interpretatie op gespannen voet staat met de ideeën van de kunstenaar.” En Bas Jan Ader, zegt Ex, kan zich niet meer verdedigen”.

Discutabele edities


Ex is niet de eerste, en zeker ook niet de enige, die klaagt over de wijze waarop met de nalatenschap van Bas Jan Ader wordt omgesprongen. Twaalf jaar geleden verscheen in het gezaghebbende Amerikaanse tijdschrift Art in America een groot artikel van Wade Saunders. Daarin maakte hij duidelijk hoe Patrick Painter Editions, de galerie uit Los Angeles die sinds 1993 de nalatenschap van Ader beheerde, discutabele postume edities op de markt bracht. Het bontst maakte Painter het door op basis van een vage zwart-witpolaroid een installatie te reconstrueren. Saunders vond in een archief Aders instructies voor deze installatie, en kon zo vaststellen dat de reconstructie nergens op leek.

„Er is geen moeilijker estate dan die van Bas Jan Ader”, zegt verzamelaar Martijn Sanders. Samen met drie andere liefhebbers ontfermde Sanders zich in 1979 over de nalatenschap van de toen bijna vergeten kunstenaar. Dat mondde zeven jaar later uit in een door kunsthistoricus Paul Andriesse geschreven monografie, waarin 36 kunstwerken staan beschreven die de kunstenaar had geautoriseerd.

„De essentie van het werk van Ader is dat er nauwelijks werk is”, zegt Sanders. „Met Bas Jan is eigenlijk ook zijn werk verdwenen.”

Die lijst werd destijds uit bezorgdheid opgesteld, zegt Sanders. „Wat zou er niet met het oeuvre kunnen gebeuren als Ader postuum in de belangstelling kwam te staan?”

Patrick Painter ging doen waar de vrienden voor vreesden. Hij gaf, al dan niet met toestemming van de weduwe, dat is niet helemaal duidelijk, vele postume edities uit, soms op basis van schetsjes. Werken die nu voor bedragen tussen de 30.000 en 300.000 te koop zijn in vooraanstaande galeries. Sanders: „Wat je nu aangeboden ziet, zijn eigenlijk reproducties.”

Mary Sue Andersen laat de nalatenschap sinds twee jaar door een andere galerie in Los Angeles beheren. Ze ontdekte dat Painter misbruik maakte van haar vertrouwen en heeft de galeriehouder inmiddels gedaagd. Net als Boijmans wil Painter de werken van Ader niet afstaan.

Een nieuwe poging

Mary Sue Andersen heeft na het vonnis laten weten dat ze films in bruikleen wil geven aan het Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. „Misschien wel voor eeuwig”, zei Andersen tegen de Volkskrant. Die belofte zal Ex bekend voorkomen. Na de verkoop van de fotowerken aan Boijmans liet Andersen per brief weten dat ze „zeer blij was dat het museum de films tot in de eeuwigheid zou gaan conserveren”.

Stedelijk-directeur Beatrix Ruf reageerde vorige maand verrast maar enthousiast op de aankondiging van Andersen. Ze zei te willen onderzoeken hoe ze het werk van Bas Jan Ader een grotere aanwezigheid kan geven in Nederland. Ruf: „Zijn werk is zo belangrijk dat het een thuisbasis moet krijgen.”

Die opmerkingen zorgden voor het nodige chagrijn in Rotterdam. Sjarel Ex: „Het werk van Bas Jan Ader had en heeft al 25 jaar een perfecte thuisbasis in Nederland en dat is Boijmans. Collega Ruff zegt dus iets dat niet op kennis van de werkelijke situatie is gebaseerd.”

Boijmans deed vorige week een nieuwe poging om de films te behouden. Het bood Mary Sue Andersen 200.000 euro voor de films, het bedrag dat ze volgens de door Boijmans geraadpleegde taxateur waard zijn. Maar na de „vijandige en hatelijke bewoordingen” van het museum, zoals haar advocaat het in zijn pleitrede formuleerde, bedankte de weduwe ook voor dat aanbod. Haar advocaat laat weten dat ze de films wil onderbrengen bij het Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, zoals eerder aangekondigd.


“Ader has influenced a tremendous number of artists and his influence is still being felt today,” Michael Briggs, who co-founded the gallery with Anna Meliksetian, told Artinfo via email. “Lately there has been a resurgence of performative elements in art and Ader was truly a pioneer in integrating these into his practice.  We are frequently told by artists, some of whose work bears no seeming relationship to Ader’s, how much of a formative influence he has been on their practice.  The fact that we get near constant exhibition requests from all over the world to loan his films, photos and installations attests to his ongoing relevance in the art world.”

— Ashton Cooper (ashton_cooper)

(Photo: Bas Jan Ader and his wife Mary Sue Ader-Andersen in front of his exhibition “Bas Jan Ader Broken Fall (Organic)” at Kabinett für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremerhaven, Germany circa 1972; Copyright the Estate of Bas Jan Ader, Courtesy the Estate of Bas Jan Ader and Meliksetian | Briggs, Los Angeles.)


Bas Jan Ader
Fall
Los Angeles, USA: Self-published, 1970
[48] pp., 19 x 19 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown

An artist book with no text, Fall contains two photographic sequences, composed of 11 images each, from the artist's films Fall 1, Los Angeles, and Fall 2, Amsterdam. The former begins with Ader seated in a straight-backed chair on the roof of his house and the latter sees the artist cycling into the canal in one of his most recognizable actions.




bas jan ader door filmow

WIE WAS BAS JAN ADER?

Domineeszoon Bas Jan Ader (1942-1975) was een conceptueel kunstenaar. Zijn kleine oeuvre bestaat voor een groot deel uit performances, waarin fotografie en film een belangrijke rol spelen.

Het bekendst zijn I’m too sad to tell you, een foto en een film, waarop Ader hartstochtelijk huilt, en de korte films Fall 1 en Fall 2, waarop Ader respectievelijk van het dak van zijn Amerikaanse huis valt, en op een fiets, met een bos bloemen in de hand, een Amsterdamse gracht in fietst.

In het kader van zijn kunstproject In search of the miraculous wilde Ader in een vier meter lang zeilbootje, een zogeheten Guppy 13, de Atlantische Oceaan oversteken. Met proviand voor 180 dagen en een exemplaar van Phänomenologie des Geistes van de Duitse filosoof Georg Hegel aan boord, begon de kunstenaar op 9 juli 1975 vanuit het Amerikaanse Cape Cod aan de oversteek.

Na drie weken werd het radiocontract verbroken. Na tien maanden werd zijn boot voor de kust van Ierland teruggevonden. Het lichaam van Ader is nooit gevonden. Veertig jaar na zijn verdwijning spreekt zijn werk steeds meer tot de verbeelding. Ader is al eens omschreven „als de James Dean van de beeldende kunst”.

See also

GUPPY 13 VS OCEAN WAVE; A BAS JAN ADER EXPERIENCE ...

maandag 1 februari 2016

Views & Reviews New Photography seems No Photography QUICKSCAN NL#02 NEDERLANDS FOTOMUSEUM


QUICKSCAN NL#02
Five years on from its very successful first edition, the Nederlands Fotomuseum is proud to present QUICKSCAN NL#02, an exhibition that puts a finger on the pulse of Dutch photography to give the public a taste of the latest, most exciting trends in Dutch photography.

The exhibition will feature 15 to 20 photographers currently active in the Netherlands, showing work they have produced in the last two years that has mostly not yet been on show anywhere else.  The photographers and artists set to contribute to QUICKSCAN NL#2 include: Laurence Aëgerter, Gwenneth Boelens, Jan Dirk van der Burg, Anne Geene, Jan Hoek, Stephan Keppel, Kasia Klimpel, Sjoerd Knibbeler, Ola Lanko, Willem Popelier, Jannemarein Renout, Jan Rosseel, Collectief Salvo, Marleen Sleeuwits, Batia Suter, Elisabeth Tonnard and Mariken Wessels.

Signalling new trends
As with the first exhibition, the focus of QUICKSCAN NL#02 is not so much on revealing promising new talent as on the innovative ways in which photographers, graphic designers and fine artists are currently using the medium of photography. What new ways and possibilities are they exploring? Can we discern new developments and how do we interpret these?

Building on the success of QUICKSCAN NL#01
Not only did QUICKSCAN NL#01 present a wide-ranging and inspiring introduction to the vanguard of Dutch photography, its success also established the exhibition as the benchmark, launching the international careers of participating photographers such as Kim Boske, Melanie Bonajo, Katja Mater, Rob Hornstra, Awoiska van der Molen, Anouk Kruithof, Paulien Oltheten, Wassink Lundgren en Luuk Wilmering.

Nieuwe fotografie lijkt geen fotografie

Sandra Smets   1 februari 2016

Ola Lanko : Mountain (2015) landschappelijke clichéfoto’s verwerkt tot kroonluchtigerachtige installatie. ‘Groots.’

FOTO NEDERLANDS FOTOMUSEUM
Wat speelt er in de fotografie van nu en straks, hoe ziet de meest nieuwe fotografie er nu uit? Nou, niet als fotografie. Deze is veranderd in boekenkasten, installaties, abstracte papiersculpturen blijkt in de groepstentoonstelling Quickscan#2 over (net als een eerdere vijf jaar geleden) de jongste fotografie. Dat jong is niet bedoeld als leeftijdsgrens, meer gaat het erom wie bovenop de jongste ontwikkelingen zitten (hoewel dat in deze expositie toch vooral dertigers zijn en geen grijsaards).

Alle zeventien exposanten benaderen die kernvraag, ‘wat is fotografie vandaag?’, door erom heen te cirkelen.

Dat betekent dat ze weinig zelf de camera oppakken en meer kiezen voor tekst, schema’s, archiefmateriaal. Elisabeth Tonnard maakte een plaatjesloze installatie van enkel Facebookachtige oneliners op papier: ‘Henry David Thoreau added a new photo’, of, ‘Ralph Waldo Emerson shared a link’.

Quickscan#2, t/tm 8 mei in het Nederlands Fotomuseum, Wilhelminakade 332, Rotterdam. Di-vr 10-17u, za-zo 11-17u. www.nederlandsfotomuseum.nl

Goddank denk je dan, dat die mannen geen internet hadden en gewoon mooie boeken schreven. Even sceptisch lijkt Kasia Klimpels digitale video met Google Earth beelden: op een tablet zie je het landschap verschuiven vanuit de bekende luchtbeelden, door Klimpel gecombineerd met foto’s van horizons. Natuurlijk weten we het wel, dat Google Earth niet de werkelijkheid is, maar dat geloof je pas als je het zo abstract ziet als hier.

Sceptici dus, deze niet-fotograferende fotografen. En áls ze dan foto’s maken, zoals Marleen Sleeuwits van haar kleurrijke installaties, of de digitaal bewerkte god-weet-wat-foto’s van Jannemarein Renout, zijn de abstracte resultaten nauwelijks meer als foto herkenbaar. Ze zijn Kunst.

Maar deze kunst gáát wel over foto’s, over wat het medium betekent in deze tijd van digitale hup-snel-weg beeldenvloed. Jan Dirk van der Burg koos negen willekeurige twitteraars en bundelde hun tweets – over familiebezoek, over de varkens op de boerderij, over alledaagse kul – in boekvorm elk terloops bericht verheffen tot aforisme en elk online kiekje tot dragend beeld.

Vergeten fotografie herleeft dankzij de digitale snapshotcultuur

Het negental wist van niets, en reageerde verbaasd of trots. Ze hadden ook best flink mogen schrikken: voor een roman met eeuwigheidswaarde denk je twee keer na voor je een tweet tikt.

Weg met die vluchtigheid, het staat weer in de kast, en zo krijgt fotografie weer waarde. Dat weer waarde geven is een rode draad in de expositie. Ola Lanko verzamelde landschappelijke clichéfoto’s die ze verwerkte in een bijna kroonluchtigerachtige installatie, waarin die voorspelbare foto’s toch weer uniek worden. Groots. Zeg maar als een twitterbericht dat het tot roman schopt.

Maar deze kritische blik is niet zozeer nostalgie: de exposanten kijken waar de waarde van een beeld ook weer in schuilt. Soms duiken ze als reddingswerkers oude archieven in.

Zoals Laurence Aëgerter, die een relatief willekeurige architectuurfoto van een kathedraal uit een jaren-vijftigboekje opnieuw fotografeerde, bij telkens ander licht.

Het levert een prachtige wand op van acht foto’s, telkens andere slagschaduwen, sereen en mysterieus.

Zo veel eer zou deze ene oude foto nooit ten deel zijn gevallen, als dat vermaledijde internet er niet was gekomen met zijn artistieke tegenreacties.

Zo zie je maar. Dat een vergeten foto juist dankzij de digitale snapshotcultuur herleeft.

zondag 31 januari 2016

Views & Reviews Polaroid Portraits Ulay Artists Book Photography


Polaroid Portraits

Ulay

Published by De Appel, Amsterdam 2001, 2001
8vo, stiff wrps., b/w photographs, 28 p., first edition 

In 1973 Ulay made a number of colour Polaroids of a nude woman with a guitar. Her body is slim, but at the same time muscular, almost like that of a man. The curves of the guitar that she grasps echo the forced, tense forms of her body. The small series seems almost a parody on pop stars from the 1970s such as Brian Ferry or David Bowie, who delighted in a sort of androgynous confusion in their acts. There is something in this combination of seductive muscularity and unmistakable phallic symbolism that also makes one think of some contemporary computer manipulations. A contributing factor is the extremely stylized pose, which explicitly plays with the codes of sexual roles. Here that results in an image of an androgynous woman; in many other Polaroids from the years 1970-75, Ulay displays an obsessive search for his own identity, often with sexual overtones. Generally this involved explicitly feminine representations and behaviours. Sometimes this led to self-portraits as a hermaphrodite, sometimes to exceptionally erotic travesty scenes, or again to painfully realistic transformations carried out on his ownbody, but it can also take the form of almost romantic scenes with wedding dresses. As was the case for so many artists of his generation, in that period - the beginning of the 1970s - for Ulay his own body was both the starting point and, at the same time, the means of expression, and because of its immediacy, photography was logically his medium. Photography was not so much image or form, but as direct a report of a process as it was possible to obtain.

This consciously shocking flirtation with feminine roles and attributes preceded the performances that he realized with Marina Abramovic between 1976 and 1988. The polarities which he had explored in himself were now investigated in real time and with a partner. Their subjects increasingly went beyond narcissistic, identity-related concerns, to concentrate on polarities such as culture and nature, body and spirit, quiescence and energy, art and life andindividuality and universality.
Ulay made many of the Polaroid series in cooperation with the German artist Jürgen Klauke. Both were fascinated by the work of the French artist Pierre Molinier, in whose staged and assembled self-images from the 1960s and '70s the masculine and feminine were always present simultaneously. But where Molinier's photography arose from a passionate desire to merge with the feminine, the work of both Ulay and Klauke was much more provocative because they wished to make social codes and roles visible. In this sense too Ulay's Polaroids are clearly situated in their times, the first half of the 1970s, as a male pendant to the work of, for instance, Katharina Sieverding or Ulrike Rosenbach, against thebackground of second wave feminism.
Now, about twenty-five years later, we experience Ulay's photographs as much lessshocking than we once did. What does remain is the power of the experiment, a quality which also defines Ulay's work from the past decade. An important reason for the presentation of this relatively unknown work is the remarkable ambiguity and unflagging topicality of a number of the images. Perhaps such an assessment is rooted in the present ubiquity of photography which shamelessly appeals to the voyeuristic gaze and at the same time is a fascinating mixture of investigation, eroticism and ego-document. Of course, the artistic foundations now are radically different. Ulay and his generation were often originally active in the visual arts, and employed photography principally strictly as an instrument. Present-day photographers who mix documentary and fashion photography, portrait photography, computer manipulations and staged work with one another are working expressly within photography itself. Thus it was that photographer Martine Stig a couple of years back began to work out of curiosity about the formaland substantive qualities of the snapshot. The snapshot traditionally stood for the ineptitude of the family photographer, but also, in recent days more than ever before, for immediacy and authenticity, qualities which are valued highly by many young, contemporary artists. Since photographers like Nan Goldin and Wolfgang Tillmans have committed the most intimatedetails of their immediate environment, friends and life (not excluding sexual affairs) to the museum public in a loose, snapshot-like style, what was previously thought of as the non-professional photograph has appreciated in significance. If nothing else, the fact that both Goldin and Tillmans have clear connections with the world of fashion can be seen as evidence of this. Goldin's frank, intimate "diary" influenced fashion photography, which was subsequently where Tillmans got his start. For both, the boundaries between genres are hardly of anyrelevance.
Hripsimé Visser
Translated by Donald Mader

Ulay

Marta Gnyp for Zoo # 37, October 2012

Imagine a combination of a charismatic personality, a subversive anarchist, a bright mind and a daring body. The artist Ulay, better than anyone has explored limits of body and soul and by doing so he has become one of the founding fathers of performance art.
MG: Lets start from the very beginning. You were born in Sollingen during the WW2.
U: I was born in a bomb shelter in 1943 during heavy British bombardments. I was conceived just around that time when my father came back from Stalingrad in February 1943.
MG: Did he sympathize with the Nazis?
U: No. My father was born in 1892; in the age of 22 he was drafted as simple soldier to fight in the WW1. Then in the age of 50 he was forced to go to Stalingrad. It was the deciding battle so they drafted all available men. My father came back 2 years later in a very bad shape. I grew up with my mother and my father as the only child, no grand parents, no uncles, no aunts. When I was 14 my father passed the way, not only because he was war traumatized but because he was in a very bad health condition.
MG: Did he talk with you about the war?
U: Never, the only thing he said to me: as long as I live you will not join the army.
After his death my mother got panicked, she withdrew to a small place in the forest where she stayed till hear death without any intercourse with the society. Nobody had contact with her. That means that I was drawn back to myself.
MG: How did you live?
U: I had to manage and I did. It is a long survival story. As an orphan at 15 without any family support you have to become smart, street smart and otherwise smart, you meet wrong people and good people. At the end of the journey you are what you call a self-made and self-taught man. The good thing about it is that you cannot blame anybody except yourself. In my case I become very stubborn. When I was 21 I married and one year later got a child; I wanted to experience how does it feel to have a family. But 3 years later I decided to leave Germany.
MG: Not only Germany but also your wife and your son?
U: Yes, I left everything behind what I had, among others 2 photographic enterprises in industrial and architectural photography that I had built up.
MG: When did you start to be interested in photography?
U: The real interest began when I was 20. Before that I explored the industrial photography, technical cameras, die Sachlichkeit photography – they are all very German. Then I discovered that I had different ambitions and different desires, which I couldn’t explore in Germany.
M: Why not?
U: Because of the war the country was devastated, demoralized, there were no men but only women who had to clear up the whole mess. A devastating communal emotion. I didn’t want to go on with the industrial photography, there was something else lurking at me. My inner voice was telling me: take another course, go another way.
MG: Didn’t you have guilty feelings to leave your child?
U: No. When the child became 3 I decided to leave. I woke up my wife at 2 in the morning, made her a cup of coffee and told her: “I’m leaving”. Thanks to the photography business I had quite some money that I could leave to her. I said: “I will borrow the car and will call you at the destination so you can send someone to pick it up|”. I went direction Prague, to the German-Czech border. Bad timing, it was 1968 so I was withhold by strange people with fur huts and red stars who said ‘njet’.
MG: Why did you choose Prague?
U: Because it was a very mysterious place for me but also because they had a very interesting theatre and film academy. I wanted to enrol there and do something completely different.
MG: The Russians invaded your plans as well.
U: When I was hanging around the border drinking vodka with the Russians I found a German newspaper in which there was an article about the Provo’s in Amsterdam. They were constructive anarchists, rioting against the police but they had good goals. They wanted to make the city car free, create more green spaces, to make a city liveable, which is still actual today. It was before Bader Meinhoff and RAF, the Vietnam War was going on, we lived in cold War era, but what they did was very positive. Then I thought why not Amsterdam?
MG: Was Amsterdam also a mysterious place?
Ulay: Totally, everything seemed so nice: this beautiful mediaeval place full of bridges and canals and the cute Dutch people. I took direction Amsterdam. First contacts I made were with people who used opium, so I had to use opium as well because “if you are not together with us you are against us”. I did it once, it was a great experience but I never did it again.
Then I called my wife and told her that she could pick up the car.
MG: You decided to stay in Amsterdam.
U: Yes. I mingled with the Provo’s, that was great, I was blocking the roads in order not to let the cars go through.
MG: How did you live?
U: From hand to mouth. I still do. My principles are coming from the 60s: I have never had a religious confession, never joined the army, never joined a political party, never got any form of mortgage. This means that you live from hand to mouth, if you have more your mouth is bigger, if you have less then smaller.
MG: Your life philosophy is not to be dependent on anything.
U: Thanks to this I can act freely. Of course I’m dependent: on the food chain, on the climate, the social fabric more or less. But I kept my principles up and I’m proud of. Thanks to these exceptional conditions I could operate exceptional: I could chose to become artist, use my art to confront the conventional art audience. I had perfect means to start a little revolution in the art world.
MG: Before you came to Amsterdam you were earning and enjoying money. You knew what taste the money can have.
U: I was such an idiot: I invested a lot in race cars together with a Duke from Austria, Hubertus von Rohrer. We bought several extremely expensive cars.
MG: Choosing the art career in the 60s was choosing for poverty. You didn’t mind?
U: As Nietzsche said: Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stark. I got very strong.
MG: Were you so convinced from the very beginning that you are artist?
U: Yes. I studied art in Cologne 1970 till 1971, but only 1,5 year. They didn’t have a faculty for photography at that time so I enrolled for painting and graphic. It was beautiful because the social connectedness among young people who wanted to become artist was big. It is not easy to become an artist. My professor invited me once to his atelier, made a goulash soup and gave me this terrible digestive Underberg. Than he said: “I suggest that you leave the academy, not that I don’t like you or you had no talent, but you have too much experience, you could teach photography if we had this department”. That was hard because I like the social fabric of this place. But I took this advice and moved on.
MG: So you are autodidact.
U: Yes. But after being professor at the Rietveld academy in Amsterdam and art academy in Karlsruhe I can tell you that you cannot learn art at school. You can learn a lot about art but making art and taking all responsibility on yourself is different.
MG: How was the situation in the 60s when you started?
U: Artists from 60s and 70s belong to the anti-art, anti-aesthetic generation. I have always shot my Polaroids straightforward; I didn’t care about the light conditions or formal aspects. I was never busy with the truth; I was always busy with reality. It is a big difference.
MG: What was anti-art for you?
U: Thomas McEvilly, one of my favourite writers wrote a great book the Triumph of Anti- Art, in which he wrote an essay about me in this context. The anti-art started really with Dadaists. And then through the whole 20th century you have this anti-movements neo dada, conceptualism, performance etc. Of course many artists were revolutionary in the late 60s without being in this category, like Polke, Richter, Kiefer, Immendorf or Penck, the war generation but they were more into formal aesthetics. It is not my cup of blood.
MG: How was the performance art born?
U: There are two American scholars: Rosalee Goldberg who traces the history of performance back 1896 to Ubu Roi, the first artist theatre piece by Alfred Jarry, while Kristine Stiles goes back to action painting. I don’t think that action painting has to do anything with performance. Pollock worked in solitude like most painters, he happened to be sometimes crazy and drank and got to this action. More interesting at that time was the Gutai group in Japan, which did real performances at that time. The Goldberg camp doesn’t focus on genders, the Stiles’ camp is highly gender oriented.
MG: How did you start with performances?
U: I have been always involved in photography. Being a Polaroid photographer I started to use myself as a model or an object for identity investigation. As I had no background information on my family and relatives, at one stage I just wanted to know who I actually am. It has to do something with Amsterdam, because by changing Germany into Amsterdam I got a German profile. So I started to investigate myself simultaneously with looking at other people. Those other people were always coming from the margins of the society: homeless, alcoholics, transvestite or transvestites. This genre of people interested me most because there were all out of social order, out of convention of the society. So was I. At the same time I exposed myself in the front of the camera.
MG: Who was taking the pictures of you?
U: Only me. They are all auto portraits. I had a great and highly sensitive camera. I would put it on the tripod and would do intimate performative actions in front of the camera, which was the only witness. It is like a delayed mirror, you take a picture, you wait 3 minutes and look again and again: is it me?
MG: Was it enough to get new insights about yourself?
U: I found it troublesome that photography would always stay on the surface of things, except its medical or microscopical variants, while I wanted to use the Polaroid photography was a means to investigate myself. So I started to cut myself, to make piercings, transplanting. Once I even got a tattoo transplantation, which was a first class surgery.
MG: Were you not afraid of pain?
U: No, I wanted to feel myself better. It is not about hurting. If you are in such a mood you must. It was all controlled.
MG: How did you infiltrate in the marginal groups?
U: There were special bars on the Rembrandt Square with transvestites and transsexuals earning their money there. There was always the same game: transsexuals refused to call transvestites by the girls’ names. I had a beautiful transvestites friend, but the transsexual would call her Otto. I was outsider but accepted. There was a stage that I was walking around as transvestite.
MG: To feel what?
U: Solidarity. Besides I wanted to make a clear step outside of normal. I was walking around with stockings and high boots and wearing sexy underwear.
MG: You were extremely provoking.
U: Because I never believe in the rules of the society. Now I’m only provoking by electronic cigarette.
MG: Were you showing these polaroids to the audience?
U: No, only once in the gallery Seriaal which was owned by Mia Visser, a big collector and Wies Smals who later established the Appel Foundation. In their last show in the gallery in 1974 they wanted to show the new directions, which they want to explore, something different, a completely new trend. It was not easy for me to agree on the show because my photos were extremely personal, private and intimate.
MG: But you knew that it is more than a personal search for your identity.
U: It was like a private archive or an individual mythology. I generated so much material but not for an exhibition. I felt like an artist, because I sensed that if I would chose to become an artist I could go really fast. But in the period between 1969 en 1975 I had no intention to put myself to in a critical art context.
MG: The two ladies managed to convince you.
U: they believed that it was something special. It was also hard for me because many intimate images were not only of me but also of other people. The exhibition was great, hundreds of people came, but the establishment was completely shocked.
MG: What did you show? Cuttings, mutilations?
U: Yes, also polaroids with freaks, hermaphrodites, transvestites, transsexuals. Harsh milieu. Than I was shocked in return, because many visitors found the images absolutely unacceptable and horrific.
MG: Were you disappointed by these reactions?
U: I promised myself that I would never make an exhibition again because people are so backwards and rejective.
MG: Did they never mind that you were German?
U: Interestingly, not. Opposite to other Germans I mingled with all incredible local people and was heavily involved in the city. I was for example one of the 3 people who squad the famous place Ruigoord.
MG: Were you anti-German yourself?
U: Never.
MG: One of your works around this time was situated in Germany where you steal a historically important work the Armer Poet by Carl Spitzweg from the Neue Nationalgalerie and put it the house of Turkish immigrants.
U: This is not based on anti-German emotions or considerations. This work by Carl Spitzweg from 1839, painted three times, was about the German sentimental identity. The image of this work was the only full colour reproduction in my reading book at school. The poet was burning his manuscripts to keep him warm, etc. but it was never meant as anti-German.
MG: You were a well-known crazy persona in Amsterdam when you met Marina Abramovic. How did you meet?
U: By the end of 75 I was asked by a Dutch TV-station to collaborate on a documentary on body art, a phenomenon that was then going on in Europe and USA. I agreed but under my conditions: we will shoot 24 hours but no drinking and no food. I had a great empty place in Amsterdam North, made out of concrete and glass with 2 single beds, a table and a refrigerator. The crew went with me for 24 hours in the apartment, we did interviews and talks for 13 hours and than all of the sudden I felt a draught, the door must have been opened. One of the crewmembers went out to buy food in a shop to sneak it in.
MG: Why did you put these conditions? To get people clear minded?
U: Clear minded and straightforward; interruptions through eating and drinking are destructive. More than this, I invested a lot in my performance, I wanted them to invest something as well, otherwise they would record and wouldn’t understand. But the promise was broken so I sent them out. The producer was complaining because they had to seek alternatives, and then they found Marina Abramovic, a young woman from Belgrade.
They invited her to Amsterdam to do a performance in the Appel. She was sitting in the front of a table; on the table was a razor blade, a jar of honey, a whip and a spoon and on the wall was a little photograph of Thomas Lips. She started eating the honey – she disliked honey – ate the whole jar, then she took the razor and cut herself a star in her stomach, then she kneeled down and whipped herself for a long, long time. It was fascinating. After she finished I asked Wiese for some alcohol and disinfection stuff, went to Marina and nurse her.
MG: That’s how you met.
U: Yes. Then Marina did a performance, which was called Exchange of roles. She found a hooker, a great lady, almost 50. She agreed that Marina would sit in her window and that she will be in the gallery during the opening of the exhibition. I was hiding in a little car shooting the whole event with Marina in the window, she was talking to the clients but she wasn’t fucking with anybody. But she had funny talks. Our hooker collaborator was pretty stressed in the Appel not because people didn’t get to know the concept, but because she couldn’t answer the questions about the exhibition. But she did it with a lot of dignity.
MG: At that time you already had a relationship with Marina?
U: We were similar. Marina was and maybe still is famme fatale, and I was the masculine variant of homme fatale. I showed her my early polaroids and she was totally fascinated by them. At a certain moment we went to a Turkish restaurant and she asked: “what sign are you?” “I’m Sagittarius”, and I asked: “what sign are you?” “I’m Sagittarius.” “When were you born?” “On the 30th of November.” She said: “I don’t believe it: I was born on the 30th of November.” Then she asked me: “can you prove it?” I had a little pocket agenda with me; the first thing I do when I buy an agenda I tear off the page with my birthday because I don’t like to be remembered that I’m aging. I showed her that 30th November was ripped out. Three years difference.
MG: What was the main theme in your joint performances?
U: There were all based on traumatic periods in relations. A relation is the biggest obsession of the western society. In primitive societies not, it is what it is. In the western society it is the big issue, so many relations fail and collapse.
We were the prototypes, the models for a male/female relation and we were beating, kicking and hurting each other. All the performances were the traumatic fears within our knowledge and observations of male-female relationships. But our private relationship was wonderful. We were so in tune. Marina was making sweaters for me, we were cooking together- it was wonderful. But during performances we lend ourselves to models for impossible relationships or fears. And fatality.
MG: Did you talk a lot about your work?
U: We never talked about the concept of the performance until we were on the spot. Wherever we were doing performances, be it in Genève, Liege, Gent, Sidney or Documenta, we created them on the spot. Which was very uncomfortable to the organizer because we didn’t know the title or the concept until we were there.
They had to give us a carte blanche. The good thing about conceiving a performance together on the spot is that it heightens the authenticity; you always refer to something which is nearby and that’s important.
MG: Were you never afraid that you would fail in front of the public?
U: The audience learned in one stage to be afraid of us. We did performance of which I know that the public estranged, like the performance in this huge underground concrete parking place, above a department store, at the evening of the opening of Documenta 6. We didn’t agree to perform in Fredericianum. We started the performance about 8 o’clock. There were two equal columns in the colour of the concrete. Firstly we took off our clothes and then, naked, we started to run full speed against the columns. The sound was amazing. All of the sudden there were thousand people there.
MG: How did you recuperate? It must be extremely exhausting.
U: The most common question was: did you have pain? We didn’t do it for pain, neither did it hurt. We were so perfectly able to adjust our bodies to our minds.
MG: How did you prepare yourself for this?
U: Mentally, meditations came later when we started the Nightsee Crossing sessions. There are special techniques but at that time we just could do this. The beauty was the combination of the male and the female; a single performer can get lost while whatever happens in a dialogue between the spectator and us, we always have each other and our dialogue.
MG: How can the spectator get lost in the dialogue with the performer?
U: To endure a heavy self-mutilating is usually hard for the audience.
If you see two people fighting on the street you would react. During the performances the spectator starts accepting it and keeps looking without interfering.
As result you get a completely different moral of the spectator and performer, the spectator becomes accomplices. Or pervert. The performance is a social- psychological event.
MG: How the two of you did communicate during a performance?
U: At one moment you go the location at and then you switch the button and enter your own conceptual physical and mental space. Only guided by the idea. We were totally focused and meditate on this idea, which we shared between the two of us. Some performances were so violent, so we had to stick to our concept.
MG: Did you like to provoke the audience?
U: I was intrigued by the psychology of the spectator. In 1977 we did a performance Incision in Graz in an art gallery. The performance was very simple: a rubber cord about the size of my little finger was tied up to the wall; I would step in it and put it on my lower torso. And I would expand as much as possible, as much as the elasticity of this rubber cord will allow and than catapult myself back against the wall. Marina would stand on the ultimate extension of rubber cord. The audience was in front. I was naked, Marina not. Prior to the performance we found an Austrian karate champion who was supposed to be a part of performance. He was standing in the audience. Marina was passive, I was exhaustingly active. His task was to attack Marina when I started to feel that my strength was exhausted to the ultimate. He was supposed to jump in the air and hit her with his both legs. He warned Marina that there was only one thing she could do, stay totally relaxed; that if she stay tense he would break her arms. The audience was focused on my activities, not on Marina; their sympathy went more and more to me, because she was passive. At one stage the karate man attacked her in a fraction of a second. She flew four meters away, I continued. He turned around like a cat and left.
MG: He could leave without any protests?
U: He had to leave because he was a part of the audience and the audience didn’t want to be part of the violence. Marina got up, she was smashed away, went back to the place where she stood and I continued. The most important thing was that we had manipulated the perception of the audience.
MG: Were you aware of the fact that performance could become so important?
U; No, in the late 60s and at the beginning of the 70s the performance artists were mostly women, and mostly women with very feminist ambitions. Marina and me were doing a relation work.
MG: Were you and Marina the perfect performance couple?
U: It is impossible: neither a performance couple, nor a perfect couple, because in that case you would never be able to do this kind of performance. Perfect couples don’t really exist. Perfect is harmony. Perfect is hermetic, thus the end of communication.
MG: Ok, you were not perfect but happy together. You were experimenting as artists, searching for what is art, what is body and soul. What happened that you decided to break up?
U: There are two interpretations of our breaking up: Marina has her interpretation and I have mine. Marina has taken very much advantage of our breaking up, she named me the black peter, a bad boy etc. She even went so far or so low that whenever she had an interview after 1988 she would say that she hates me.
MG: Didn’t you risk losing your artistic identity since you were an artist couple?
U: We were never Gilbert&George. I have always had a flirt with anarchy and still have. An intelligent courageous artist needs to choose subversivity. At one stage after 1981 the Ulay/Abramovic enterprise became an institution.
MG: What s wrong with this?
U: I’m an anarchist. Don’t try to institutionalize an anarchist.
MG: Could you be anarchist against your own ideology?
U: What happened was that people started to behave different to us, not straight forward or honest, they started to admire.
MG: You can handle it.
U: But I don’t like it. To be independent is part of my principles. When I discovered this I left this field as free man and a free thinker. Marina did it in the opposite way; she was working even more hard, with much success.
MG: What did you do after 1988?
U: When you break apart is a like a little death. Mainly because we were in a psychological and physical state of symbioses. You really fall in a dip. Artistically the first thing I did was to substitute the body with vessels and vases. There is a great tradition in Asia and Middle East that people decorate their houses with twin vases or vessels. It is not about symbolism of Ying and Yang but about a negative space. I also substituted the body for urns and vessels. I made a beautiful book for Centre Pompidou about it.
MG: You went back to photography.
U: But a different photography, a photography without photography. I was working life-size polaroids inside a camera. The idea of the life-size came from this incredible beautiful book by French film critic Andre Bazin titled the Ontology of the Photographic Image. Then I realized that you could combine the performance with photographic image when the object of subject in the photographic image is the same dimension of actual object. It discovered performative photography.
Man en vrouw met kinderen op de arm op de Albert Cuypmarkt. Portret van passanten, hoek van de Albert Cuypstraat en de Eerste Sweelinckstraat, gemaakt met een 20x24 inch Polaroid-camera. Foto uit de serie 'Polaroid Portraits'. Afmetingen 56x88 cm (inclusief witrand).