Alfred Ullrich is a graphic, video and action artist based in Dachau. Born in Schwabmünchen, Bavaria, in 1948 as the son of a German and an Austrian Sintezza, he sees himself as an outsider among outsiders. His work revolves around the question of the relationship between mainstream German society and that of the Sinti and Roma, and aims to provoke century-old prejudices cemented in the collective subconscious of society. He also investigates his own family history: Ullrich’s entire family was sent to Nazi concentration camps, where most of them were murdered. His mother’s experiences in the camps also traumatised Ullrich, and thus pain, death and vulnerability flow into his work. He spent his first nine years in a caravan on the northern outskirts of Vienna, then after his schooling he travelled throughout Europe and worked as a stagehand for a theatre and in a manual printing workshop in Munich. He began using printing experimentally as a medium to create his own abstractions, which resonate between beauty and coarseness, grace and provocation. His drypoint etchings are delicate, mostly abstract images which reveal the process of printing itself and dematerialisation. The interplay of opposing forms and colours on the multifaceted surfaces reflects traces of the physical destruction of the printing plates.

Ullrich’s performance art is more political. His first art action, Perlen vor die Säue [Casting Pearls Before Swine], in 2000 was a single iconographic scene: Ullrich stood in front of the entrance gate to the Lety concentration camp and let pearls drop to the ground from his open hand. He referred to the scandal that the former death camp, a site of the mass murder of Roma and Sinti, was being used as a pig farm. The performance was part of the Call the Witness exhibition at the 2nd Roma Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011.

As a keen observer, Ullrich challenges antiquated views and behaviours, for he often finds discrimination against the different and unknown in language and images. In 2006 in his piece Transidentities, he criticised the condition of the public toilets on a former caravan site near Dachau, but after Ullrich had photographed and filmed the area the toilets disappeared overnight and a mobile toilet was put in their place. Five years later, Ullrich asked for the removal of the sign bearing the discriminatory inscription ‘Landfahrer kein Gewerbe’ [ Site for Travellers: No Trading], because the term Landfahrer was used during the Nazi era as a synonym for Roma. His dialogue with Dachau municipal authorities was difficult.

Ullrich continues to exhibit worldwide, with his declared mission to ‘uncover mainstream society’s relationship to Sinti and Roma society today’.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

Kulturzentrum Zeche Carl, Essen

Small Gallery Young Art, Waldkraiburg

Atavisms – L. Pichl and W. Wires, Gallery piek + fein, Berlin

Grafika – N. Kiening, Diöcesan Museum, Katowice, Poland

KVD, Dachau, with G. Gottschalk and H. Müller-Cejka
Artothek Treptow, Berlin

Artist’s house, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

‘X’ – Franziskuswerk, Schönbrunn

FarbenFormenStrukturen – KVD, Dachau
Havanna Lounge – Vienna

Pearls Before Swine – performance, Lety, Czech Republic
Twenty Years of Lyrical Abstractions – T.W. Wood Gallery, Vermont, USA

Farbe Form Struktur – with C. Sattler-Nefzger, Wasserturm Dachau

Rahmen los …! – KVD, Dachau

Six Times Nothing on Three Plates – Muzeum Romské Kultury, Brno
Transidentities – Neue Galerie Dachau

Illustrations to Matéo Maximov’s novel The Ursitory – House of Minorities, Prague

roll-on, roll-off – A41 Gallery im Hof, Vienna
Transidentities – zentrum edition exil, Vienna

Transidentities III – Galerie Kai Dikhas, Berlin

Blackout – Greyout Whiteout Braunau(t) Apartment of Art, Munich | Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma, Heidelberg | Galerie Kai Dikhas, Berlin

Carte blanche – with Konrad Dördelmann, Kunstverein Schrobenhausen

Rolling Home – Galerie Kai Dikhas, Berlin

Selected Group Exhibitions

Impreza (honourable medal) – Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

Osnaka99 – Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

Haus der Kunst, Munich

AK 68 – Wasserburg, Inn

Post Für Dachau – KVD, Schloss Dachau
AK 68 – Wasserburg, Inn

Rainbow Soldier, Liquid Heart – Stadtturm Galerie, Innsbruck, Austria

The Aquarellis – KVD Galerie, Dachau

Love and Friendship in the Nuclear Age – Gallery Dana Charkasi, Vienna
Romale! 10 – Kunstraum Next Andrä, Graz

EuroArt, contemporary art of the Dachau artists’ colony – Pesterzsébeti Múzeum, Budapest
Gadschi, Roma, Sinti, Manouches… Positions between exclusion and acceptance – KVD, Dachau
roma protocol – Parliament of Vienna
Call the Witness, 2nd Roma Pavilion, 54th International Venice Biennale | Utrecht
Stopping Places – Galerie Kai Dikhas, Berlin
KVD members’ exhibition, Dachau

What’s in a Frame? – www.3, Munich
the killer rabbit ranch rodeo – National Museum Berlin and Studio Norrmann Biberbach / Röhrmoos
showrom – Stimmen der Roma [Voices of the Roma] – Munich Adult Education Centre
Stopping Places II – Galerie Kai Dikhas, Berlin
KVD members’ exhibition, Dachau

Neuland – Apartment of Art, Munich
Romani Lives – Kunsthalle Exnergasse (WUK), Vienna
The Ministry of Education warns: Segregation seriously harms you and the people around you –Prague, Czech Republic (story of the Landfahrerplatz, Dachau)
Stopping Places II – Galerie Kai Dikhas, Berlin

Akathe Te Beshen / Here to stay – Galerie Kai Dikhas
Kathe Ham Mer Kheri / Here We Are at Home – Galerie Kai Dikhas,
KVD members’ exhibition, Dachau
Stopping Places IV – Galerie Kai Dikhas, Berlin

Transmitting Trauma? – Galerie Kai Dikhas, Berlin
Stopping Places V, Galerie Kai Dikhas, Berlin
Selfie – KVD members’ exhibition, Dachau

Trautes Heim – KVD, Schloss Dachau
Akathe Te Beshen / J’y suis. J’y reste – Rivoli59, Paris
Be Free! – Heidelberg Castle | Ottheinrichsbau, Berlin
Galerie Kai Dikhas, Berlin

Akathe Te Beshen – Mestipe Thaj Sastipe
CentroCentro – Cibeles de Cultura y Ciudadanía, Madrid, Spain
Today Is Yesterday – Galerie Kai Dikhas, Berlin

Source: the artist