Ulla von Brandenburg
Ulla von Brandenburg © Jan Norhoff
Visual arts

Before going on residency at Villa Kujoyama, Ulla von Brandenburg exhibits at the Pernod Ricard Foundation

In my work, as in my exhibitions, I like the idea of nomadism, of not being limited to a specific place.

Based in Paris since 2005, German artist Ulla von Brandenburg has invented her own language, combining theatre, installations and the imaginary, in a body of work that is recognised worldwide. A finalist for the Prix Marcel-Duchamp in 2016, she is currently presenting "La société des spectacles", in collaboration with Farah Atassi, at the Fondation Pernod Ricard, before going to Japan, for a residency at Villa Kujoyama in August 2024. The Institut français is also supporting her internationally through its IF Export programme. 

Updated on 16/02/2024

5 min

Born in 1974 in Karlsruhe, Germany, Ulla von Brandenburg trained in stage design in her home town before making a brief foray into the theatre. She then decided to continue her training at the Kunstakademie in Hamburg. Inspired by literature and psychoanalysis, the artist maintains the themes and temporality associated with the theatre throughout her visual work. While she multiplies the supports and mediums, moving from installations to films, as well as watercolours and murals, she stages all the codes of scenography. 

Internationally recognised, Ulla von Brandenburg's work was nominated for the Prix Marcel-Duchamp in 2016. Her work is regularly praised for its singularity, notably at the Lyon Biennial in 2011 and the skate park installation presented at the Palais de Tokyo for its reopening. She has also had solo exhibitions around the world, at the Whitechapel Gallery in London (2018), the Musée Jenisch Vevey in Switzerland (2018) and the Contemporary Art Museum in Saint Louis (2016). In 2024, she is laureate of the Institut Français residency programme at Villa Kujoyama. 

Ulla von Brandenburg borrows her themes from literature and architecture, but also from esoteric rituals and the codes of theatre. Using masks, sets and costumes, she transgresses norms and hierarchies in order to play on the question of reality and appearances. In her work, the idea of representation is frequently developed, under a succession of scenic guises that support the passage towards fiction or the imaginary. In this way, she creates spaces and sets, often perceived from behind and entered through a curtain. 

In "La société des spectacles", her latest exhibition at the Fondation Pernod Ricard, conceived in collaboration with the artist Farah Atassi, she continues to use this scenography to reflect on the use of the stage, the spectacle, but also artifice. Spectators are invited to enter the exhibition through the monumental paintings on fabric that the artist has deployed in a multiplicity of forms. From dance to music, by way of theatre, scenes are played out before the eyes of a visitor transformed into a spectator. 

Ulla von Brandenburg's work is widely presented, and has been regularly exhibited around the world. Her installations are now part of the prestigious collections of the Tate Modern in London, the Mamco in Geneva and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. In 2023, he will also be on show at the Crystal Palace Reina Sofia in Madrid, while another exhibition is planned for 2024 at the Bass, the museum of contemporary art in Miami Beach.

Ulla von Brandenburg is also the 2024 winner of the French Institute's residency programme at Villa Kujoyama. She will be in Japan from 2 August to 27 December 2024. She hopes to immerse herself in the life of objects in order to rethink the way she lives. With this in mind, she plans to document the shapes and intimate life of the objects that inhabit the environments in Japan by capturing the shadows they produce.

  • 2009


    Ulla von Brandenburg exhibits her first installation, "NAME OR NUMBER", at the FRAC.

  • 2016


    She is one of four finalists nominated for the Marcel Duchamp Prize.

  • 2020


    She organised the "Le Milieu est bleu" exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo.

  • 2024


    She exhibits "La société des spectacles", in collaboration with Farah Atassi, at the Pernod Ricard Foundation.

  • 2024


    Ulla von Brandenburg will be in residency at Villa Kujoyama from 2 August.

The Villa Kujoyama

Villa Kujoyama is an institution of the cultural cooperation network of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Operated by the Institut français du Japon, Villa Kujoyama is working closely with Institut français and it’s supported by its main patron the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation.

Find out more about Villa Kujoyama 

L'institut français, LAB