Bridget Donahue is pleased to present photographs and flat works by the radical German artist and filmmaker, Ulrike Ottinger. Ottinger’s complex and transgressive practice defies boundaries and hierarchies. In film, she would be considered an auteur, but such a term is limited when considering the films, exhibitions, operas, radio plays, photographs, paintings, costumes, collages, and more produced by Ottinger over a fifty year period.
This exhibition marks Ottinger’s first in New York in nearly 20 years and includes a selection of photographs taken over the span of her career, many of which were shot on set of her most iconic films. These photos give a kaleidoscopic and idiosyncratic lens into the themes and characters that inhabit Ottinger’s highly stylized universe where power, history, culture, gender and normative storytelling is collapsed and put back into burlesque disorder.
While many of the figures and sites represented in the works on view have been pulled from their elaborate, and often allegorical, cinematic context, Ottinger’s precision and agility as a maker of static images becomes more porous, but no less potent. Art Historian Katharina Sykora describes Ottinger’s archive as a ‘photographic hoard’: “There is no predetermined form, no established sequence… It is the event of appearance, of showing and seeing, which is at the core of their being.
They vibrate sympathetically as pre- and post-images in every new performance and bring forth an overlapping of superimpositions that grow constantly denser.”
Alongside the photographs are four map collages made in 2011 on the occasion of Ottinger’s exhibition “Floating Food” in Berlin at Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Antique pulldown maps, typical of what would be found in a 1960s schoolroom are embellished with photos, postcards and correspondence, either found by or addressed to the artist. Elements are connected by a diagrammatic web of red yarn or semi obscured behind cutout windows like those in an advent calendar. On these maps, time and place are unfixed, layered, invented and synthesized. Ottinger’s travels, ethnographic research and investigation of the politics of colonialism have defined her work, especially the more recent experimental films which take place in Mongolia, the Bering Sea, Southeast Europe and the Echigo Provence in Japan. The Museum of Modern Art will be screening Ottinger’s 2011 film, Under Snow from March 1st - 3rd, 2019, which corresponds to the closing of the exhibition at the gallery.
— Julia Trotta