'There's still always a first time. Reading, the
imagination, the confrontation with reality. Must imagination shy away
from encountering reality, or do they love each other? Can they become
allies? Do they change when they meet? Do they swap roles? It's always
the first time.' (Lady Windermere, in Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia.)
Ulrike Ottinger took her first photograph at the age of nine, on a
canal boat in Amsterdam. Two Indian gentlemen, one in a trench coat,
the other wearing a turban with a well?tailored suit, smile for the
camera. When she asked if they would mind having their picture taken,
they kindly agreed.
Every one of the thousands of photographs that Ulrike Ottinger has
taken since then is a first picture. It always refers to something
beyond itself: to the reality that precedes it; to countless images
from the repositories of the arts, of everyday culture and of myth; and
to the visual cosmos of her own increasingly dense œuvre. These
photographs are encounters between things found and things invented.
They are arenas in which reality and fiction, past and future, wish and
fulfilment, transform each other.