Ulrike Ottinger and the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden have one thing in common: with our location in Baden-Württemberg, we share the same habitat in the artistic context. Born and raised in Constance, Ottinger has been and still is artistically active—be it in the field of visual arts or film—almost everywhere. As part of the Hans Thoma Prize of the State of Baden-Württemberg, the exhibition Cosmos Ottinger at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden presents the multifaceted oeuvre of this internationally renowned artist.
Fabulous worlds, surreal settings, somber and serene elements: there is no more perfect place than Ottinger’s cosmos to define a queer gaze or formulate a feminist perspective, or even better, to build a personal and political bridge uniting all these elements. Ottinger’s cosmos is a galaxy in itself, an outer space, an extraterrestrial threshold that helps us understand who we are today.
As its title suggests, this exhibition features everything that constitutes the legendary Ottinger’s artistic practice. This exhibition is entirely dedicated to the imagination of this extraordinary artist and, like a dictionary that defines her languages or an alphabet that deciphers her stories, it turns the pages of her diverse and long-standing oeuvre. The Kunsthalle becomes a stage, a film set, a studio, a backstage, an archive, and a living museum. Photographic images map those places in the world where she has spent her life, while installation elements and sculptural forms reflect her understanding of bodies. Cinematic formats that reflect her politics of storytelling and political statements in many different forms create interstitial spaces.
The work of this pioneer of avant-garde cinematography captivates with its unmistakable aesthetic. Her feminist view of past and current events and portrayal of queer personalities establishes a point of contact with current sociopolitical discussions.
The exhibition tour embarks from the artist’s extravagant filmic worlds by means of scripts, film props, object and costume installations, fabric collages, and photographs.
It ends with a presentation of Ottinger’s paintings, which she created as a young artist in Paris. With her paintings, she is considered one of the most important representatives of Pop Art in Europe. These works remind us that a critical and creative examination of issues that were already addressed fifty years ago in the student protests in Paris must be unrelenting.
From film enthusiasts to art lovers, from flaneurs to travelers, from an audience to performers—visitors to Baden-Baden will assume very different positions as the exhibition reviews the most significant stages of Ottinger’s oeuvre. Reminiscences of her unparalleled films such as Freak Orlando (1981) or Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Tabloids (1984), as well as examples of her subtle approach to direction in other fields, from photography to painting, form a storyline to understand how Ottinger remembers and reconstructs her own way of storytelling. In the context of exhibition-making, these questions are very relevant today: how do we create unique spaces of film history in a museum setting? And how can we revive these historical elements of early queer, feminist and political themes for future generations?
A selection of Ulrike Ottinger’s films will be shown weekly at the Moviac cinema in Baden-Baden to accompany the exhibition. A catalogue for the exhibition will be published at the end of April.