Ulrike OTTINGER > Filme > Südostpassage > Pressestimmen > Linda Nochlin, artforum, September 2002

Linda Nochlin, artforum, September 2002

[...] Very different yet just as visually seductive is Ulrike Ottinger's Southeast Passage: A Journey to New Blank Spots on the Map of Europe (the title obviously ironizes the earlier colonializing implications of "North West Passage"). Like Kanwar's film, Ottinger's 2002 record of a journey from Berlin through Eastern Europe and two urban expeditions, in Odessa and Istanbul, achieves its effects through film techniques that call attention to the medium itself. Although I didn't get to see all of the three-part, six-hour work - a common drawback in reviewing film presentations at art exhibitions - what I saw was memorable: a huge market in Odessa with row after row of food products and stout, feisty, mostly middle-aged women running the stalls. I was struck by the humanity of these women - no waifs here, no Botox, just big arms, ample busts, and lots of caustic interaction. Heaps of white cheeses, making their visual appeal amid pools of translucent whey, lashings of rich, opaque cream. Then the fishwives, to use the old term, offering up their glistening, fleshy catch, vying with one another to display the superiority of their wet, scaly wares and impatient for the sale. Here, among the market women, Ottinger constructs that seductive amalgam of nostalgia and utopia that so often filters our view of marginal, outmoded lives and practices. But Ottinger's market scenes make one think in more specifically economic terms as well. After all, this is buying and selling on display here, competition and comparison shopping, foregrounded by Ottinger's astute camerawork and the robust appearance of the products and their sellers. Are these succulent cheeses just a sheet of Pliofilm away from being the prepackaged products of our impersonal shopping malls? Can we talk of a contrast between use value and exchange value in the Marxist sense here? Or is a market always a market? [...]