• Ulrike Ottinger: Inspectors (Kontrolleure), 1987; digital color print; 31 1/2 x 47 1/4 in. © Ulrike Ottinger.

Teatime Thursday: Susan Oxtoby on Ulrike Ottinger

Open to Curator’s Circle members at the $1,000 level and above.

Please join us for a conversation with Susan Oxtoby, BAMPFA director of film and senior film curator, who will speak about Ulrike Ottinger’s work in relationship to the Matrix 276 exhibition and the streaming spotlight series East Meets West: The Films of Ulrike Ottinger, both on view through July 18. 

Matrix 276: Ulrike Ottinger is BAMPFA’s first exhibition of the artist’s photographic work. The images on view were made over decades and display Ottinger’s abiding interest in portraiture and landscape. Often, but not always, Ottinger’s photographic work runs parallel to her film projects. Her talent as a cameraperson—her eye for detail, frame composition, color, and light—and her worldview are apparent in both media.

Born in 1942, Ottinger resides in Berlin, where she works as a filmmaker, visual artist, and director of theater and opera. She became interested in photography at the age of nine, and it has remained (along with cinematography) one of her primary pursuits as an artist. Over the course of her career, she has created a body of work that is deeply informed by her encounters with fellow artists and intellectuals, as well as different world cultures. Her work has been associated with various art movements over the decades—from the New German Cinema to feminism to ethnographic film.

As an image maker, she is witness to a world in transition. She documents places and settings that are imbued with a sense of history and cultural customs. This is especially true of her photographs taken in China in 1985, in which she memorialized an old world and old ways. By contrast, on Ottinger’s expeditions to remote reaches of the world, she finds an atmosphere of serenity and wonder. Her epic-length documentaries Taiga (1991, filmed in Mongolia) and Chamisso’s Shadow (2016, logging a voyage to the Bering Sea region) are featured in East Meets West: The Films of Ulrike Ottinger, and photographs from Taiga figure as part of the gallery exhibition.

Susan Oxtoby has led BAMPFA’s Film Exhibition Department since 2005, and she was named director of film and senior film curator in 2020, overseeing BAMPFA’s Film Exhibition, Film Library & Study Center, and Film Collection departments. She is a member of the Library of Congress’s National Film Preservation Board, has served on the International Federation of Film Archives Executive Committee, and has been awarded medals by the governments of France and the Democratic Republic of Georgia. Over the course of the past thirty years, including the first part of her career, when she was based in Toronto, Oxtoby has been responsible for curating historical and contemporary retrospectives and hosting guest filmmakers, archivists, critics, and experts across a wide spectrum of world cinema.

This event is open to Curator’s Circle members at the $1,000 level and above. Space is limited, and reservations will be taken on a first come, first served basis. Registered participants will receive an email with a secure event link on June 18.

Please contact Director of Special Events Masha Berek at mberek@berkeley.edu for more information or to register.