Retouching Bruises, 1975

Basel 2015
MOT International
Ulay Retouching Bruises, 1975 Installation, 100 pieces, Polaroid photography Each: 8.5 x 10.8 cm unframed, each unique MOT International, London & Brussels is delighted to be presenting Retouching Bruises (1975) by Ulay. Consisting of one hundred Polaroid photographs, Art Basel Feature 2015 will be the first public exhibition of the work in its entirety. Significantly, Retouching Bruises pre-dates Ulay’s now iconic collaboration with Marina Abramović (1976-1988), with whom he is widely recognised to have produced some of the most influential performance works of the 20th Century. Setting a substantial precedent to this partnership, Retouching Bruises demands a contemporary reassessment of both Ulay’s solo career, and the Abramović/Ulay collaboration. Combining photography with performance, Retouching Bruises captures an intimate series of actions, in which the artist and his partner mark each other’s flesh with ink. A finger is placed on a collarbone, or grasps a thigh, each time imparting a dark fingerprint onto the skin in a gesture that maps one identity on top of another. Reiterating this exchange, Ulay transferred his fingerprints onto the Polaroid photographs themselves, reasserting the immediacy both of the action and the medium. Ulay had many early collaborators, notably Jürgen Klauke and Paula Françoise-Piso, while Retouching Bruises was produced with avant-garde musician Charlotte Moorman. However, Retouching Bruises should be considered exceptional, as it is a direct example of the experiments with identity, the body and performance that later characterized Ulay and Abramović’s work together. MOT International will contextualise Retouching Bruises with Ulay’s Polaroid pieces from the same period, in which the artist tested delimitations of gender codes and explored androgynous representations. These include works from the Renais-Sense (1972-75) series, produced with Paula Françoise-Piso, and signed with the composite name PA- ULA-Y, in addition to the triptych Ich bin Ich (1974). This presentation at Art Basel Feature reveals a tenacious body of work that decisively re-appraises accepted narratives on Ulay’s career. In underlining his radical interrogations of male/female dynamics, Ulay’s enduring and vital importance to performance history–in his own right–is articulated. Ulay (b.1943, Solingen, Germany) lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Ljubljana, Slovenia. Recently Ulay’s solo work has been exhibited at artevida, Rio de Janeiro; Venice International Performance Art Week, Venice; Tate Liverpool; Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt; Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz; upstream Gallery, Amsterdam; Jewish Museum, Vienna and Salon Dahlmann, Berlin.