Ulrich Oettinger on her 80th birthday: life moves on – Culture

She has filmed in China, Japan, and Mongolia, and has traveled to remote parts of the Arctic Circle, but the hardest part was the journey into her past. After Ulrike Ottinger traced her beginnings as an illustrator in “Paris Calligrammes” in 2020, when she left for Paris at the age of twenty for seven years of the student movement, she openly admitted that it was her most challenging journey. Although all of her work is autobiographical, she has never bothered to look into the private sphere. Remember yourself, what an adventure.

From a person who set out to understand the world and the ego of the world: who meets her, the visual artist from Lake Constance with her Parisian pop art past and the underground years in Berlin from 1973, which saw a unique feature film, documentary and photography. She pursued a career, she experiences the same experience, as curious travelers. Either she reports on her last expedition or on preparations for the next.

operatic extravagance

Life travels. At parties or inaugural parties, Ulrike Ottinger roams from group to group with her sweet, girlish smile and casual (but tailored!)

In the documentary, she creates the fantastic film, and vice versa, she floods her imagination with reality, as in “Jeanne d’Arc of Mongolia” from 1989. Or she trades the operatic extravagance of her gender-variety films like “Dorian Gray in the mirror of the tabloids.” The grandeur of nature and the jewels of everyday life, especially in her Asian films.

She is always drawn to the faraway places, whether she is exploring the exoticism of her adoptive home in West Berlin with her then partner Tapia Blumenchen in “Portrait of a Drinker” or inviting us to explore the North Pole around the Bering Sea for twelve hours in “Chamissos” Chaten. Familiar, discovering the strange, and at the same time bringing you the forgotten parts of the world.Always directing the camera herself, in 26 films to date, many of them in XXL length.

At times one might think that Oettinger, this brave and at the same time meticulously an explorer, is a figure of a century ago, in the manner of Adelbert von Chamisso’s private scholar and the feminist tradition of Annemarie Schwarzenbach. As a curious university, she is no different from her French colleague, Agnès Varda.

But Oettinger is still Oettinger, unequivocally, insatiable in the best sense of the word. Her pervasive, radical work includes theatrical productions, collages, experimental reports, and travel reports. As a result, her work can be seen not only at the Berlinale, but also at the Documenta and the Venice Biennale. She creates installations for museums and galleries, publishes photo books, and always has projects in progress.

Treasures in the old building

The base stop for all her activities is her old apartment in Fichtestrasse in Kreuzberg. She has lived there since 1979, collecting her treasures, picture boxes, slide cases, odds and ends, gifts for guests, ritual weapons, and bone carvings. Ottinger’s wardrobe reveals not only her passion for travel, but also the issues she has dealt with throughout her life: being a woman and queer identities, injustice and colonialism, and the ends of the world. Fundamentalism is alien to it, and it opposes narrow ideological views with open ones.

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There are many reasons to celebrate Ulrike Oettinger’s 80th birthday on White Monday. Typical Oettinger: She asks her fans to join the festivities. Kunsthalle Baden-Baden shows “Cosmos Ottinger” until June 19, retro Ottinger runs through the end of the month in Vienna and Hamburg, and a 736-page publication “Between Worlds” explores her films “In a Mirror across the Atlantic Criticism.”

[Filmreihe: bis 26. 6., in den Kinos Arsenal, Delphi, fsk, Klick. Info: arsenal-kino.de]

In Berlin, many cinemas honor her with the series “Happy Birthday, Ulrich Oettinger”. It begins June 6 with a 50-minute poem “The Beguiling of Blue Sailors” (1975) at Klick-Kino, a wild production that, in addition to Blumenschein, features Valeska Gert and Rosa von Praunheim. Ottinger will be a personal guest in a re-performance of “Portrait of a Drinker” (1979) on Wednesday at Arsenal.

At the end of June 26, click on the “12 chairs” button. Jewel jewelry hidden in one of the chairs, but which one? A three-hour treasure hunt takes you to Odessa and Crimea, among other places. Ulrich Oettinger turned her attention to Ukraine at a time when a country was not yet at war. It is about one of those ancient cultural landscapes of Eastern Europe that the West has shamefully ignored for far too long.

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