Faces, Found Objects, and Rough Riders

Ulrike Ottinger

Exhibition: Jul 8 – Sep 12, 2004

To gather material for Faces, Found Objects, and Rough Riders, Ulrike Ottinger attended festivals, processions, and cultural events in and around San Antonio, taking over 800 photographs along the way. The installation presents photographic portraits and ephemera from the area to investigate the foundation and practices of local cultures.

Presiding over the gallery is a monumental black and white photograph from a charreada, a Mexican rodeo. Ottinger captures the cowboy and his airborne lasso in a familiar image of the west. Nine smaller photographs flank the central mural and include staged and candid portraits, as well as a lone image of a plush red heart with angelic wings.

Ottinger imports the motif of this local “relic” into the other objects in the gallery by including hearts and feather crowns on photographs, frames, and even a longhorn steer. These shrine-like areas of found and altered objects—primarily symbolic tokens from Native American and Mexican cultures—unify the project and cast doubt on the assumed authenticity of the surrounding photographs. On display is Ottinger’s sketchbook for the project—a kind of storyboard that juxtaposes drawings with pictures, notes, and ethnographic postcards from the 1930s and 1940s.

The scrapbook-like form of Faces, Found Objects, and Rough Riders is appropriate. The installation is in large part an account of Ottinger’s exploration of San Antonio, a place rich with the creolization of German, Spanish, and Native American cultures. The project reveals not only how the medium of photography can simultaneously document and manipulate its subjects, but also the ways in which cultures change, influence, and borrow elements from one other. Through compelling juxtapositions, this work, like Ottinger’s others, exposes the complexities in notions of cultural difference.


Ulrike Ottinger

Berlin, Germany

Ulrike Ottinger began experimenting with collage, performance, and photography in the 1960s before turning primarily to film toward the end of the decade. Since then she has produced eighteen cinematic works and countless photographs. Consistently playing with conventions of modernism and the classical avant-garde, she nurtures traces of the familiar and the unfamiliar, the real and the fantastic, allowing each to seamlessly intermingle with the others.
Many of Ottinger’s films explore issues of metamorphosis and inclusion. In Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press (1984) protagonist Dr. Frau Mabuse uses the power of prohibition to make and break the character of Dorian Gray, who ultimately undergoes a transformation from Bauhaus-dandy to evil tycoon. Ottinger complicates such familiar themes by reversing dominant gender roles and manipulating key transformative moments.
Ottinger has increasingly turned toward cultural studies, employing more documentary strategies in her photographs and films. In the film Exile Shanghai (1997) Ottinger documents the stories of six German, Austrian, and Russian Jews whose lives intersect when they flee to Shanghai. Employing interviews, narrative, photographs, and other documentation, the film capitalizes on the tension between art and ethnography.
Ulrike Ottinger was born in Konstanz, Germany in 1942. She has had solo exhibitions at such venues as National Museum Center of Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (2004); Witte de With, Bild-Archive, Rotterdam, Holland (2004); The Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, IL (2003); and Goethe Institut, Barcelona, Spain (2002). Group exhibitions include Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany (2002); Sessions, Bild-Archive, Museum of Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany (2001); and 39th Venice Biennale, Italy (1980).

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Ute Meta Bauer

Vienna, Austria

Ute Meta Bauer was appointed Professor of Theory, Practice, and Mediation of Contemporary Art at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in 1996 and since 2003 is also vice rector for international relations at the academy. In addition to her faculty position, Bauer is the founding Director of the Office For Contemporary Art Norway in Oslo, and was recently appointed Artistic Director for the 3rd Berlin Biennial For Contemporary Art which will open February 2004.   Recently, Bauer was part of the curatorial team for Documenta11 (2002).
Focusing on art, architecture and sound linked to feminist and socio-political discourses, Bauer’s curatorial work includes the exhibition First Story – Women Building/New Narratives for the 21st Century (2001) for the European Cultural Capital.  That same year she also curated the exhibition Architectures of Discourse for the Fundació Antoni Tapiès in Barcelona.  From 1994 to 1996 Bauer was guest curator for NowHere at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (1996), and was Artistic Director at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart e.V. from 1990 to 1994, she has also been responsible for numerous exhibitions, lectures and international conferences such as Radical Chic (1993) and A New Spirit in Curating“ (1992).
Since 1985, Bauer has also worked as free-lance curator and editor of publications in the field of contemporary art and mediation of art, among them Education, Information, Entertainment: New Approaches in Higher Artistic Education (Vienna 2001) and periodicals like META 1 – 4 (Stuttgart 1992-94) and case (Barcelona 2001, Porto 2002).

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