The artwork and films of Ulrike Ottinger straddle ethnographic observation, cultural encounter and mythological narration. In this unique installation at the kestnergesellschaft the artist combines what otherwise remains unconnected, and in doing so she both blurs and highlights the distinctions between cultures. School wall charts covered with postcards and embroidery are the starting point for the installation, which meanders between reality and fiction, bringing alive different worlds through photographs from Mongolia, Eastern Europe and Mexico. Thematically linked objects, wall pieces and processed photographs are woven into a dense network of images and stories. The staging is supplemented by the presentation of an excerpt from Ottinger’s »Taiga« (1992) – a film which describes her journey to the yak and reindeer nomads of Northern Mongolia and tells the histories of these two peoples – and the expansive slide installation »Bildarchive«. The exhibition offers a fascinating encounter with Ottinger’s now sensitive, now strident, open and personal view of the world, history and culture.
Ulrike Ottinger makes disturbingly beautiful images – whether as filmmaker, photographer, or a scenographer of opulent installations such as the one currently on show at the kestnergesellschaft. Her curiosity for the foreign and the other runs like a red thread through the stage sets of her art. [...]
Having met Ulrike Ottinger a few times I got the impression that she perceives the world around her purely in terms of visual scenes; as miniplots that throw up questions or divulge insights. The sketch is her tool for solving problems.
There is an impressive diversity to her interests and her subject matter; she is a traveller moving from one expedition to the next, a deep-sense diver. Ulrike Ottinger translates the results of her research into dramaturgical images, into bizarre, surreal curiosities and marvels, deploying difference and deviance to create paradoxical records of reality. This primarily applies to her films of course, but the same also goes for her documentary works, where intensely coloured photographic compositions lend emotional charge to the unavoidable cultural differences of civilizing rituals.