Ulrike Ottinger

Ulrike Ottinger (b. 1942) grew up in Constance, Germany, where she opened her own studio at an early age. From 1962 until 1968, she lived and worked as an artist in Paris, where she exhibited at the Salon de la Jeune Peinture and elsewhere. She studied etching techniques at the studio of Johnny Friedlaender and attended lectures at the Sorbonne on art history, religious studies, and ethnology with Claude Lévi-Strauss, Louis Althusser, and Pierre Bourdieu. In 1966, she wrote her first screenplay, entitled The Mongolian Double Drawer.

After returning to West Germany, she founded the filmclub visuell in Constance in 1969, as well as the galeriepress gallery and press, presenting Wolf Vostell and David Hockney, among others. With Tabea Blumenschein, she realised her first film in 1972–73, Laocoon & Sons, which had its premiere at Arsenal Berlin. She moved to Berlin in 1973 where she filmed the happening documentation Berlinfever – Wolf Vostell. After The Enchantment of the Blue Sailors (1975) with Valeska Gert, came the female pirate film Madame X (1977), a coproduction with the ZDF television network. The film was a sensation and prompted substantial controversy.

Ottinger’s “Berlin trilogy” began with Ticket of No Return (1979), followed by Freak Orlando (1981) and Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press (1984). Collaborating on the films were Delphine Seyrig, Magdalena Montezuma, Veruschka von Lehndorff, Eddie Constantine, and Kurt Raab, as well as the composer Peer Raben. In the short film Usinimage (1987), she revisited imagery derived from industrial wastelands and alienated urban landscapes.