The artist, who became famous for his collaborative performances with Marina Abramović, sometimes deadly, died after fighting an oncological disease.
German artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen, better known as Ulay, died in Slovenia in his 77th year of life. Although Ulay gained recognition back in the 1970s thanks to experiments with photography, he became the most popular during his collaboration with the artist Marina Abramovic.
Ulay and Marina Abramovic lived together for more than 10 years. During this time, they held several famous performances. Among them, for example, “Breathing In/Breathing Out,” — an action during which they “breathed in one breath”, blocking each other’s oxygen through the nose and transferred carbon dioxide through their mouths — it lasted about 20 minutes until one of them lost consciousness. In 1977, artists twisted their hair and sat with their backs to each other for 17 hours.
Another joint performance held in 1980 was called “Rest Energy”: for it, Abramovic held the bow for four minutes, and Ulay held the bowstring and arrow that was aimed at the artist’s heart.
In 1988, the artists parted, meeting in the middle of the Great Wall of China. Abramovich and Ulay walked towards each other from opposite ends, covering 2,500 kilometers: Ulay began his journey from the Gobi Desert, and Abramovic from the Yellow Sea. In 2010, the artists met for the first time after parting. This happened during the performance of Abramovic at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, when visitors could sit at the same table with the artist and look into her eyes.
A year later, Ulay was diagnosed with cancer. The documentary film Project Cancer: Ulay’s Journal from November to November tells about the artist’s treatment and his life at that time. In 2014, the performance artist announced that he had recovered from cancer. And a year later, he seized $250,000 from his former partner for using the joint works that the artists created from 1976 to 1988. Among the works that Ulay accused the former lover of was their 1978 performance Work Relation: it was recreated by Abramovich to advertise Adidas.