Micha Ullman

    Grant Recipient

    Tel-Aviv, Israel

    July 15, 2020 - October 3, 2020

    Jerusalem, Israel

    Micha Ulman was born in Tel Aviv to German Jews who immigrated to Mandate Palestine in 1933. As a teenager, he attended the Kfar HaYarok agricultural school. In 1960-1964, he studied at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. In 1965, he attended the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, where he learned etching. Ullman is married to Mira, and lives in Ramat Hasharon, Israel.

    He taught at Bezalel Academy in 1970 – 1978. He became a visiting professor at Academy of Arts Düsseldorf in 1976. Taught at the University of Haifa from 1979 – 1989. Was appointed Professor of Sculpture at State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart in 1991.

    Ullman created the underground “Bibliotek” memorial on Bebelplatz square in Berlin, where the Nazi book burnings began in 1933. The memorial consists of a window on the surface of the plaza, under which vacant bookshelves are lit and visible. A bronze plaque bears a quote by Heinrich Heine: “Where books are burned in the end people will burn.” This memorial was inaugurated in May 1995. Ullman explains: “It begins with the void that exists in every pit and will not disappear. You could say that emptiness is a state, a situation formed by the sides of the pit: The deeper it is, the more sky there will be and the greater the void. In the library containing the missing books, that void is more palpable. We expect [the books] but they are not there.”

    In 1997, Ullman completed a synagogue memorial in collaboration with Zvi Hecker and Eyal Weizman, commemorating the former Lindenstraße synagogue in Kreuzberg. Another of his creations is “Hochwasser” (“Flooding”) on a small island near the Werra River in Germany. It was inspired by a boat Ullman saw there with a sign on it stating it had a capacity of up to seven passengers. Ullman’s father, Yitzhak, who had lived nearby, immigrated to Palestine with his seven siblings in 1933.

    Ullman creates subterranean sculptures, some of which barely protrude from the ground. They touch on universal themes such as the meaning of place and home, absence and emptiness. They have been described as simultaneously “celestial and earthbound, metaphysical but sensual and tactile.