Amalia Ulman

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Amalia Ulman
Amalia Ulman Portrait.jpg
EducationCentral Saint Martins
OccupationMultidisciplinary artist
Known forPerformance Art, Contemporary Art, Conceptual Art

Amalia Ulman (born 1989) is an Argentinian artist and film director based in New York City whose practice includes performance, installation, video and net-art works.


Amalia Ulman was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1989 and was raised in Gijón, in the Spanish province of Asturias, after emigrating with her family.[1] In 2009, she left Spain to study at Central Saint Martins in London, where she graduated in 2011.[2] In 2013, she was in a serious Greyhound bus accident that left her with a permanent disability.[3][4]

As of 2020, Ulman lives and works in New York City.[5][6]


Her work deals with issues of class, gender, and sexuality.[7] Ulman is particularly interested in middlebrow aesthetics.[8][9][10]

In 2012, Ulman presented Profit | Decay, a show held with Katja Novitskova at the gallery Arcadia Missa in London.[11]

In April 2013, she presented her first video essay Buyer, Walker, Rover as a Skype lecture at the Regional State Archives in Gothenburg.[12]

In 2014, she presented two solo shows in LA, CA, Used & New at ltd Los Angeles[13] and Delicious Works at Smart Objects, also in LA.[14] She also presented a solo show, Baby Footprints Crow's Feet, at Ellis King, in Dublin.[15][16]

The same year Ulman started "Excellences & Perfections", a four-month performance on her Instagram account. Through her posts, Ulman fabricated a fictional character whose story unfolded in three different episodes[17] presenting her acting as three different personas: a 'cute girl', then a 'sugar babe' and finally a 'life goddess'. "The idea was to bring fiction to a platform that has been designed for supposedly "authentic" behavior, interactions and content. The intention was to prove how easy an audience can be manipulated through the use of mainstream archetypes and characters they've seen before."[18][n 1] Ulman's Instagram selfies were mainly taken sneaking into hotels and restaurants in Los Angeles and posted as if they documented her real life.[20][21][22]

Ulman's exhibition "Excellences and Perfections," throughout the process was met with dissatisfied feedback.[23] Ulman's exhibition which was meant to show the presence of gender and sex politics on social media, caused outcries with many critics saying that Ulman was throwing her career away. It was not until after the exhibition was over, signaled with an Instagram post of a black and white image of a rose captioned "the end," that Ulman began receiving positive feedback on her work in this exhibition. Excellences and Perfections was later chosen to be a part of the Electronic Superhighway Exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery in 2016.[24]

In October 2014, during Frieze Art Fair, Ulman presented a solo show The Destruction of Experience at Evelyn Yard in London.[25] For the show Ulman made "The Future Ahead", a video essay about Justin Bieber's "growth from angelic teenager to hetero-normative white male".[26]

In January 2015, she presented Stock Images of War, her first solo show in New York City at James Fuentes Gallery.[27] It is an immersive installation composed of twelve simple wire-frame sculptures, each one being after a different month of the year – i.e. "War in January", "War in February", etc.[28][29]

Towards the end of the same year, Ulman started Privilege, her second Instagram performance, which would last over a year until shortly after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As opposed to Excellences & Perfections, where Ulman enacted an entirely fictitious character, Privilege saw the artist become an exaggerated version of herself and the multiplicities of her real identity, enacted mostly in the setting of a corporate office. Ulman created a diverse array of visual materials from New Yorker-style cartoons exploring class and taste to short memetic videos and images derived from office culture and the cultural climate of the time. Central to the performance were notions of ambiguity and expectations, exemplified by the build-up of Ulman's fictional pregnancy[30] as well as the introduction of an enigmatic pigeon named "Bob",[31] who veered between real and fake animal, hobby and obsession of the artist, and between performance companion and protagonist to sidekick.

In 2016 "Excellences and Perfections" was selected to be included in the group exhibition Performing for the Camera at Tate Modern, London (18 February — 12 June 2016).[32] The exhibition, examined the relationship between photography and performance, brought together over 500 works spanning 150 years from the invention of photography to the selfie-culture of today.[33] Through Ulman's Instagram-based project, social media was examined in the historical context of photographic performances.[34] The installation was also part of the exhibition Electronic Highway at Whitechapel Gallery in London.[35] Ulman has been described as the first social network-based artist to enter top institutional galleries.[36][37][38]

In 2018, Excellences & Perfections was published as a book by Prestel. It includes the Instagram posts that she used for the project and essays by German artist Hito Steyerl, editor Rob Horning and others.[39]

El Planeta and feature film projects[edit]

In 2021, Ulman premiered her first feature film, El Planeta, at the Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim.[40][41] Ulman wrote, produced, and directed the feature, which stars herself and her mother in the latter's debut performance on the silver screen. An absurdist comedy, the film centers on the story of a mother and daughter facing eviction in post-crisis Spain and scamming their way to a more comfortable lifestyle. The film is loosely based on the real-life Spanish mother-daughter petty-crime duo Justina and Ana Belén.[42] The feature was shot in black and white in Gijon, the Spanish town where Ulman grew up. In March 2021, film distribution company Utopia has announced it bought the North American rights to the feature.[43] Ulman's next film will deal with climate change and will be shot in Northern Argentina, where she was born. [44]

Solo exhibitions[edit]



  • Promise a Future, Marbriers 4, Geneva[47]
  • Moist Forever, Future Gallery, Berlin[48]
  • Ethira, Arcadia Missa, London[49]




  • Reputation, New Galerie, Paris[52][53][54]
  • Labour Dance, Arcadia Missa, London[49]


  • Dignity, James Fuentes Gallery, New York City[55][56]
  • Intolerance, BARRO, Buenos Aires[57]
  • Monday Cartoons, Deborah Schamoni, Munich[58]
  • Atchoum!, Galerie Sympa, Figeac[59]
  • New World 1717, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai[60]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The narrative which unfolded over the course of the performance "Excellences & Perfections" was presented as follows: "The provincial girl moves to the big city, wants to be a model, wants money, splits up with her high-school boyfriend, wants to change her lifestyle, enjoys singledom, runs out of money because she doesn't have a job, because she is too self-absorbed in her narcissism, she starts going on seeking-arrangement dates, gets a sugar daddy, gets depressed, starts doing more drugs, gets a boob job because her sugar daddy makes her feel insecure about her body, and also he pays for it, she goes through a breakdown, redemption takes place, the crazy bitch apologizes, the dumb blonde turns brunette and goes back home. Probably goes to rehab, then she is grounded at her family house."[19]


  1. ^ "Amalia Ulman: sensação da arte contemporânea - Lilian Pacce". Lilian Pacce (in Portuguese). 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2016-12-22.
  2. ^ "Artist, Feminist, Immigrant: An Interview With Amalia Ulman". Archived from the original on 2015-04-01. Retrieved 2015-03-17.
  3. ^ "from plastic surgery to public meltdowns amalia ulman is turning instagram into performance art". i-D. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  4. ^ "Pyongyang Elegance: Notes on Communism". Affidavit. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
  5. ^ "Social media have become a vital tool for artists — but are they good for art?". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  6. ^ "Amalia Ulman Is the First Great Instagram Artist". ELLE. 2016-09-16. Retrieved 2016-12-21.
  7. ^ diego. "Amalia Ulman — LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial". Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  8. ^ "Amalia Ulman - 15 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy".
  9. ^ "The New New Face: Amalia Ulman - Interviews - Art in America". Archived from the original on 2019-01-02. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  10. ^ Toro, Lauren Boyle, Solomon Chase, Marco Roso, Nick Scholl, David. "Destruction of Experience - Amalia Ulman at Evelyn Yard".
  11. ^ "Katja Novitskova | Amalia Ulman, Profit | Decay". Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  12. ^ Dazed (2013-06-13). "Celebrate commerce with Amalia Ulman". Dazed. Retrieved 2018-06-03.
  13. ^ a b "Ulman's page at ltdlosangeles gallery" (PDF). Ltd. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Amalia Ulman: Delicious Works". Smart Objects. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  15. ^ Ulman's cv.
  16. ^ "Amalia Ulman | Baby Footprints Crow's Feet | Ellis King". Retrieved 2017-05-29.
  17. ^ "Amalia Ulman: Excellences & Perfections".
  18. ^ Francesca Gavin, Kaleidoscope#23, Winter 2015.
  19. ^ "How Amalia Ulman Became an Instagram Celebrity". 18 December 2014.
  20. ^ Emilie Friedlander The Fader, November 2014
  21. ^ "Goodman, Matthew Art in America Magazine June 2014". Archived from the original on 2019-01-02. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  22. ^ ""The app isn't just about posting pretty pictures": Dazed's editor and social media manager on using Instagram - Creative Review". Creative Review. 2015-11-02. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
  23. ^ Steinberg, Monica (2019). "(Im)Personal Matters: Intimate Strangers and Affective Market Economies". Oxford Art Journal. 42: 45–67. doi:10.1093/oxartj/kcy026. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  24. ^ "Press releases: Electronic Superhighway (2016 – 1966)".
  25. ^ a b "Amalia-Ulman_The-Destruction-of-Experience_Evelyn-Yard". Evelyn Yard. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  26. ^ "The_Future_Ahead_Amalia_Ulman_2014_Last_Edit.pdf". Google Docs. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  27. ^ a b "James Fuentes Gallery | Amalia Ulman". Retrieved 2017-05-29.
  28. ^ "Amalia's Website".
  29. ^ Tess, Edmonso (March 2015). "Killing in the Name". Texte zur Kunst (97): 196. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  30. ^ Freeman, Nate (2016-10-04). "'I'm Laughing at Myself a Little Bit': Amalia Ulman on Her Show in London, and Ending Her Instagram Performance". ARTnews. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  31. ^ "Amalia Ulman's BOB a job is a job is a job by JBE". JBE. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  32. ^ "Performing for the Camera: 5 key artists | Tate". Archived from the original on 2018-04-02. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  33. ^ Tate. "Performing for the Camera - Exhibition at Tate Modern | Tate". Tate. Retrieved 2016-12-04.
  34. ^ Baker, Simon. "Performing for the Camera: 5 key artists". Archived from the original on 2018-04-02. Retrieved 2016-03-05. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  35. ^ "Press Release - Electronic Superhighway - Whitechapel Gallery". Whitechapel Gallery. Retrieved 2016-12-11.
  36. ^ Dazed (2016-01-22). "Instagram artist to feature in major Tate exhibition". Dazed. Retrieved 2016-12-04.
  37. ^ Pillon, Adèle (2016-01-23). "Amalia Ulman fait entrer Instagram au Tate Modern - Pop culture - Numerama". Numerama (in French). Retrieved 2016-12-04.
  38. ^ "Le faux compte Instagram qui affole le monde de l'art contemporain". (in French). Retrieved 2016-12-04.
  39. ^ Eler, Alicia (2018-03-29). "The provocative Instagram art hoax that fooled thousands". CNN Style. Retrieved 2019-01-01.
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^ "360 Panorama of "Savings & Shelves"(2012)". 360 Panorama. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
  46. ^ "Overcome, cleanse (July, 2012)". Archived from the original on 2016-12-22. Retrieved 2016-12-21.
  47. ^ "Amalia Ulman — Promise a Future – Marbriers 4". Archived from the original on 2016-12-22. Retrieved 2016-12-22.
  48. ^ "Future Gallery". Retrieved 2017-01-08.
  49. ^ a b "Arcadia Missa".
  50. ^ "Baby Footprints Crow's Feet, August 2014". Archived from the original on 2017-03-09. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
  51. ^ "International House Of Cozy, May 2015". Archived from the original on 2016-11-29. Retrieved 2016-12-21.
  52. ^ "New Galerie". Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  53. ^ "Amalia Ulman at New Galerie, Paris". CURA. Archived from the original on 2016-12-17. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  54. ^ "Last chance: Amalia Ulman at New Galerie, Paris | Artinfo". Artinfo. Retrieved 2016-12-22.
  55. ^ "Amalia Ulman "Dignity"". Retrieved 2017-05-29.
  56. ^ "Dirty Dancing: Amalia Ulman's Intriguing Show at James Fuentes Rings Hollow | ARTnews". Retrieved 2017-05-29.
  57. ^ Duplex, Estudio. "Barro | Arte contemporáneo | Intolerance". Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  58. ^ "DEBORAH SCHAMONI – AMALIA ULMAN". Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  59. ^ "Amalia Ulman – SYMPA". Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  60. ^ "RAM HIGHLIGHT 2017: DISPLACE | Exhibition | Rockbund Art Museum". Retrieved 2017-12-15.

External links[edit]