Framed by his battle with cancer, this documentary traces the life and career of German photographer and performance artist Ulay.
In 2011 German photographer and performance artist Ulay (real name Uwe Laysiepen) was diagnosed with cancer. Framed by his battle with the disease – and subtitled ‘Ulay’s Journal from November to November’ – this film gives space for a vital retrospective on his career.
Perhaps best known for a series of intensely physical collaborations with Marina Abramović between 1976 and 1988, Ulay has spent five decades blazing a trail of unwavering vitality and unquestionable integrity. ‘Project Cancer’ recounts Ulay’s career so far via interviews, archival video, photographs and reproductions of his more ephemeral work. We also accompany the once nomadic artist on trips to his old haunts in Berlin, New York and Amsterdam, allowing him to ruminate on his career and say ‘goodbye’ to his many friends. Far from wallowing, however, the consistently upbeat Ulay muses all the while on the nature of life, love, history and art.
Abramović suggests that ‘it take a long time – almost a lifetime – to understand Ulay’, but this film goes some way to painting a portrait of an extraordinary life lived to the full.