He is an artist who likes to work apart from the wider public: SCHIRN MAGAZINE reveals ten things you need to know about Ulay.


Ulay’s real name is Frank Uwe Laysiepen. He was born in 1943 in Solingen, but now lives and works in Amsterdam and Ljubljana.

The citiy of Solingen 1944, Image via solingen-internet.de


Since the early 1970s, his works have made him a pioneer of performance art and a founder of performative photography.


In 1974 Ulay published his own obituary notice: “My farewell as one single person”.


After that he lived in a symbiotic living and working relationship with Yugoslavian-born artist Marina Abramović up until 1988.


The artist duo celebrated their separation publicly in 1988 as a performance on the Great Wall of China.

Last steps before the Meeting in the Middle of the Wall, Image via kickasstrips.com


Ulay has long worked as a consultant for Polaroid International Amsterdam and has thus had unlimited access to films and cameras. Polaroid photography is an important component of his creative work.

Ulay, Portrait, photo: Primož Korošec, 2016


In 1979 he stole the painting “The Poor Poet” by Carl Spitzweg from Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie and hung it in the living room of a Turkish immigrant family.

Ulay stealing the painting "Der arme Poet" by Carl Spitzweg, Image via martagnyp.com


In 1972 Ulay had the words “GEN.E.T.RATION ULTIMA RATIO” tattooed on his lower left arm and subsequently had this layer of skin removed and preserved by a doctor.

Ulay, Gen.e.t.ration. Ultima ratio, Image via iberlibro.com


Ulay likes to introduce himself to strangers as “Water”, because as a human being his body consists of 68 percent water, with the brain being as much as 80 percent water. His newer works involve intense exploration of the subject of water.


Ulay refers to himself as the “best-known unknown artist”.