Ulay (Frank Uwe Laysiepen)
“Action in 14 predetermined Sequences: There is a Criminal Touch to Art”
Action in 14 predetermined sequences by Ulay
30 min, bamp; w, sound.
There is A Criminal Touch to Art
A document of an event by Ulay, in which he stole a painting from the Nationalgalerie in Berlin and hung it in the home of a Turkish “guest worker.” News reports of the event are intercut with Ulay’s description (in German) and surveillance-like documentation of the performance Action.
Description of the action:
1. In front of the main entrance to the Hochschule der Bildende Künste (School of Fine Arts, Berlin) I hang a photographic banner measuring 2.50m by 2m. Motif: a reproduction of the Spitzweg painting ‘Der Arme Poet’ (‘The Poor Poet’).
2. I drive my car to the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery, Berlin).
3. I park behind the Neue Nationalgalerie.
4. I enter the Neue Nationalgalerie.
5. I remove from the Neue Nationalgalerie the painting ‘Der arme Poet’ by Carl Spitzweg.
6. I walk back to my car from the Neue Nationalgalerie.
7. I drive towards Berlin-Kreuzberg.
8. I park the car 800m away from the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin-Kreuzberg.
9. I walk to the Künstlerhaus Bethanien with the stolen Spitzweg painting.
10. I hang in front of the main entrance to the Künstlerhaus Bethanien a colour reproduction of Spitzweg’s ‘Der arme Poet’.
11. From the Künstlerhaus Bethanien I walk on 150 m to the Muskauerstrasse, still holding the stolen Spitzweg painting.
12. I enter a house with apartments rented by immigrant families.
13. I enter the apartment of a family of Turkish immigrants.
14. I hang up on the Turkish immigrant family’s wall the stolen Spitzweg painting ‘Der arme Poet’.
In 1976, Ulay (F. Uwe Laysiepen) embarked on a risky, precisely engineered and politically motivated art action. His ‘Dadaesque irritation of the Berlin art world’ was a more than merely symbolic violation of the boundaries of places of art such as the academies, museums and galleries. After the bogus art theft had been executed, journalists were summoned to Mike Steiner’s ‘Studiogalerie’ and informed of this attack on the established art world; the indignant press response was presumably part of the concept. Taken to court for his action, Ulay was given the choice of paying a fine or going to prison. He opted to leave Germany instead, but was arrested two years later during a stop-over in Munich Airport, and had to be ‘bailed out’ by a friend.
Gracias a Fito Rodríguez.