Artist: Ulrike Ottinger
Exhibition title: Madame X. Eine absolute Herrscherin
Venue: KIRCHGASSE, Steckborn, Switzerland
Date: May 4 – June 22, 2019
Photography: images copyright and courtesy of the artist and KIRCHGASSE, Steckborn
Ulrike Ottinger (*1942) has long been one of the most important protagonists of international avantgarde cinema. Her highly complex oeuvre, however, includes not only feature films and documentaries, but also paintings and an extensive body of photographic works, as well as scripts and theater productions. Ottinger grew up in Constance and began her artistic career in the 1960s as a painter in Paris. In 1969 she returned to Lake Constance and founded “filmclub visuell,” as well as the gallery and publishing house “galeriepress,” where she presented works by Wolf Vostell, David Hockney and many others. In the early 1970s, Ottinger began working on her first striking feature films in West Berlin. Presented in the exhibition at Kirchgasse are the film scripts, as well as a comprehensive selection of photographs taken in the context of the film “Madame X. Eine absolute Herrscherin” that Ottinger filmed 1977 on the Lake Constance. These photographic “stills” constitute an independent and important part in Ottinger’s development of her images and narrative ideas. “ G O L D – L O V E – A D V E N T U R E ” The pirate queen’s call is made to the German forest ranger Flora Tannenbaum; Josephine de Collage, an European artist; Betty Brillo, an American housewife; the psychologist Carla Freud -Goldmund; the photo model Blow Up; the bush pilot Omega Zentauri; and Noa-Noa, a woman from the South Seas. Thus, the team comes together as a women’s crew of a junk, which is under the imperious command of the authoritative “Madame X.” What follows includes adventurous scenes full of eroticism, jealousy and murderous conflicts. When the ship goes ashore, all figures appear to have been transformed. In “Madame X,” Ottinger links the genre of the pirate film with a complex story – portrayed in extravagant, burlesque aesthetics – of personal and social upheaval, the search for one’s own sexual identity as well as of power, subordination and inclusion in a confined space. Parallel to the exhibition, a screening of the film in a cinema is planned (date will be announced).