Why Is Ulay Being So Secretive About His Frieze Week Performance?

The artist makes his first New York appearance in decades with a new partner.

Photo: Courtesy of Patrick McMullan.

After 30 years away, German performance artist Ulay, who is known as Marina Abramovic’s former collaborator, will return to New York during Frieze Week in May for a collaborative exhibition and performance titled Cutting Through The Clouds of Myth. This time, though, his artistic partner will be Slovenian artist Jaša.

Curated by Mitra Khorasheh, the artists will perform at a special three-day opening reception on May 6, 7, and 8 in Brooklyn. According to a cryptic press release, Cutting Through The Clouds of Myth is “a series of actions, an intimate happening, an experimental installation, a language of communication, a provoking exploration of dualities, a setting of madness and tranquility, mockery and admiration.”

In an email to artnet News curator Mitra Khorasheh was reluctant to be drawn into expanding on the performance. “The artists and myself do not want to reveal the content of the exhibition until the audience experiences it,” she said. “This is very important for the show.”

The project is being put together by the art performance organization WE.ARE Institute and the environmental non-profit New Water Culture.

The show will take place at Kustera Projects in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Photo: Kustera Projects via Facebook

The show will take place at Kustera Projects in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Photo: Kustera Projects via Facebook

According to the Cutting Through The Clouds of Myth website, the concept is closely related to Ulay’s recent artistic activity, which “has focused on environmental issues, specifically on initiatives that raise awareness, enhance understanding, appreciation and respect for our most precious resource: water.”

Khorasheh explained, “Water is an important element in the story, a central figure, however there are many layers and themes.”

Meanwhile, Jaša’s work focuses on the transformation of spaces into experiences which drive them, as he says, “toward their their poetic and ecstatic potentials.” In 2015, he represented Slovenia in the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale, with a work titled UTTER / The Violent Necessity for the Embodied Presence of Hope. 

It will be interesting to see how the artists will integrate the venue at Kustera Projects in Red Hook, Brooklyn, considering the proximity to the deliciously-named body of water, the Buttermilk Channel.

A VIP event relating to the artists’ work takes place on May 7 at Frieze New York, and a talk with the artists takes place on May 12.

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