(born 1968, Tanzania)
Ullrich has been collecting newspaper cuttings of protests from all over the world for many years. For his Willkommende Gemeinschaft (Welcoming Community) 2006 project, he has selected images of individuals holding placards, which he has painstakingly altered, replacing their slogans with ornate graphic symbols.
The doctored photographs are installed on peace banners originally made by the artist’s parents and used by them in demonstrations since the 1980s. Ullrich became involved in political protest through his parents, who continue to be politically active. Willkommende Gemeinschaft explores and questions the nature and usefulness of such direct action. There is a sense of futility in the bearing of placards emblazoned with meaningless signs. However, some fundamental message survives, conveyed in the protestors’ facial expressions.
For Ullrich, there are parallels between the protesters in these images and the role of the artist, a struggle to be understood and to make sense of the world around them.