Tulse Luper and Philadelphia

An installation and lecture by Peter Greenaway that reconstructs the biography of one man and the story of a century


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Artistic legacies
  • Pedagogy
  • Performance

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Cinema Studies, Fine Arts Programs at the University of Pennsylvania


Aaron Levy, Jean-Michel Rabaté, Nicola Gentili


University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences, Emily and Jerry Spiegel Fund to Support Contemporary Culture and Visual Arts, and the Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Cinema Studies Professorship Fund

Opens to public



4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


75% Formal - 25% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce "Tulse Luper in Philadelphia," the next installment of the The Tulse Luper Suitcases. The project takes the form of a city-wide collaborative installation on the occasion of Peter Greenaway's visit to Philadelphia in April 2012. Essentially, Slought Foundation will exhibit 92 suitcases in our small storefront, as well as some fake, apocryphal & unauthenticated suitcases. It is imperative that these 92 suitcases correspond to the list provided to us by Peter Greenaway, especially suitcase #7 which features Vatican Pornography.

The Tulse Luper Suitcases reconstructs the life of Tulse Luper, a professional writer and project-maker, caught up in a life of prisons. Luper was born in Newport, Wales in 1911. He was in Moab, Utah in 1928 when Uranium was 'discovered' there, and he was in Antwerp in 1939 when the Germans invaded Belgium. He was in Rome when the Americans arrived in 1944, and he met Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest in 1945 and followed him to Moscow in the 1950s. He was at an East-West German checkpoint in 1963, and presumably last heard of in 1989. His life is reconstructed from the evidence of 92 suitcases found around the world - 92 being the atomic number of the element Uranium. These suitcases tell Luper's story from 1928 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, sketching not so much the biography of one man as the story of a century related through some of its key events.

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Screenings at Slought
Tuesday, April 10th, 5pm and 8pm
The Cook, the Thief, his Wife, and her Lover (1989), and Rembrandt's J'accuse (2008)

Lecture at Penn (Meyerson Hall)
Wednesday, April 11th, 6pm
Cinema is Dead, Long Live Cinema
"The cinema died on September 31st, 1983, when the zapper or remote-control was introduced into the living-rooms of the world."

Conversation and opening at Slought
Friday, April 13th, 6:30pm
The Tulse Luper Suitcases & Goltzius and the Pelican Company
Conversation with Jean-Michel Rabaté and Alan Singer follows

Contact us

Email us if you are able to lend us a used and tattered suitcase (from before 1989) for one month. The pick-up date for their retrieval will be April 21st from 4-6pm.

Your suitcase will be inventoried upon arrival, inspected according to the TSA screening process, and returned to you at the close of the exhibition. Workshops are being held at Slought for those interested in brainstorming contents for the suitcases that correspond to those listed below. Information about the Tulse Luper Suitcases and Tulse Luper's life is also available online.

Special thanks to the following suitcase providers: Sarah Hunt, Grisha Zeitlin, Sherry Epstein, Jean-Michel Rabate and Patricia Gherovici and their daughter Sofia, Sandra Kowalewski, Sheila Mayne, Nora Humpage, Diedra Krieger, Alison Dilworth, Sean Stoops, Scott Kip, Meredith Sellers, Virgil Marti, Evi Numen, John Darling-Wolf, Andreea Bailuc, Mimi Cheng, JL Schnabel, K Grossman, Adimu Kuumba, Jacqui Bowman, Robert Hicks, Paul Romano, Christina Cantrill.

Peter Greenaway was born in Wales and educated in London. He trained as a painter for four years, and started making his own films in 1966. He has continued to make cinema in a great variety of ways, which has also informed his making of installations for the Palazzo Fortuny in Venice, the Joan Miro Gallery in Barcelona, the Boymans -van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, the Louvre in Paris, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Hoffburg in Vienna, the Brera in Milan and the Armory in New York. He has worked and collaborated with the composers John Cage, Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, Wim Mertens, Louis Andriessen, Goran Brekovic, Giovanni Sollima and David Lang, and toured the world with his Tulse Luper Suitcases VJ Show.

He has regularly been nominated for the Film Festival Competitions of Cannes, Venice and Berlin, published books and written for the theatre and opera. His first feature film, The Draughtman's Contract, completed in 1982, received great critical acclaim and established him internationally as one of the most original and important film makers of our times, a reputation consolidated by the films, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, and The Pillow-Book and most recently by Nightwatching and the documentary Rembrandt's J'Accuse.

92 Suitcases

  1. Coal
  2. Toys
  3. Luper photos
  4. Love letters
  5. Clothes
  6. Clothes
  7. Vatican pornography
  8. Fish
  9. Pencils
  10. Holes
  11. Moab photographs
  12. Frogs
  13. Food drop
  14. Dollars
  15. Coins
  16. Luper's lost films
  17. Alcohol
  18. Perfume
  19. Passports
  20. Bloodied wallpaper
  21. Cleaning fluids
  22. Dental tools
  23. Cherries
  24. Honey
  25. Numbers & letters
  26. Luper uniforms
  27. Dog bones
  28. Locks and keys
  29. Light-bulbs
  30. Place-names
  31. Boots and shoes
  32. Zoo animals ark
  33. Ideas of america
  34. Anna karenina novels
  35. Candles
  36. Radio equipment
  37. Clean linen
  38. Water
  39. Code
  40. A sleeper
  41. Erotic engravings
  42. 92 objects to represent the world
  43. Rainbows
  44. Prison movie film-clips
  45. Manuscripts for the baby of strasbourg
  46. Holocaust gold
  47. Children
  48. Dead roses
  49. Trains
  50. Sewing needles
  51. Shower-heads
  52. 55 men on horseback
  53. China dogs
  54. Brushes
  55. Drawings of luper
  56. Musical instruments
  57. Smoked cigars
  58. Body-parts
  59. Ingres paintings
  60. Broken glass
  61. Moitessier gowns
  62. Crabclaws
  63. Feathers and eggs
  64. Yellow paint
  65. Tennis balls
  66. Bottle messages
  67. Green apples
  68. Pig
  69. Spent matches
  70. Saucepans
  71. Flower bulbs
  72. Restaurant menus
  73. 92 atomic elements
  74. Violin splinters
  75. Fire
  76. Lead
  77. Obelisks
  78. Roman postcards
  79. Holy earth
  80. Green figs
  81. Light
  82. Notes on drowned corpses
  83. Maps
  84. Board games
  85. Ink & blood
  86. Luper story manuscripts
  87. Ice
  88. Measuring tools
  89. Typewriter
  90. Dolls
  91. The phrenological book
  92. Luper's life

Some Fake, Apocryphal & Unauthenticated Suitcases

  1. Live squid
  2. Whistles
  3. Human ash