2 parts: each 78 x 78 cm
Screenprint on fiberboard
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Das Progressive Museum Basel
The “Variator” by Timm Ulrichs (born 1940 in Berlin, Germany) belongs to the artist’s earlier somewhat Constructivist phase and therefore represents only a small facet of his diverse body of works in many different media. Having declared himself a “total artist” in the 1960s, Ulrichs has since convincingly lived up to this claim by consistently dissolving the borders between art and his own life. As a professor at the Kunstakademie in Münster during the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972, he constructed a kind of hamster wheel called “Tretmühle” in which he ran a marathon every day. In 1974, he had a bull’s eye tattooed over his heart. This was followed by another tattoo in 1981 on his right eyelid with the words “The End,” like the closing credits of the film about his life – a film which Ulrichs calls “a ‘Last Picture Show’ that is presented with a wink of the eye, both happy and sad; the last screening of a way of life and its performance that was ultimately meant to be spectacular and stage-worthy.”
Alongside printmaking, body art, and performance art, his work also includes reflections on language, photographs, sculptures, and installations. For his book “Fotografieren verboten” (2012), Ulrichs photographed many signs that prohibit taking pictures, naturally along with their forbidden objects and areas. In Fröttmaning in Munich, he made a true-to-scale model of the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche for his work “Versunkenes Dorf” (2006) and sank it into a grass-covered landfill, 150 meters away from the original, to remind us of the history of this place. The village in which the original church once stood was gradually depopulated in a series of urban planning measures starting in the 1930s and was eventually buried under a landfill, with only the church remaining. The work “Bedrohtes Haus” (2004) also plays with the physical endangerment of an object. Here, a wrecking ball circles around a small glass house, waiting to destroy it at the end of the exhibition when the electricity is turned off.
His “Variator” from 1962 is thus a systematic permutation of a form that marks the beginning of a rich oeuvre in which Ulrichs continues to work through the relationship between body and art – and life and art – with neo-Dadaist humor and conceptual clarity.