Directed by Ulrike Ottinger
“In Paris Calligrammes, the artist Ulrike Ottinger casts a highly personal and subjective gaze back to the twentieth century. At the heart of her film is Paris: its protagonist is the city itself, its streets, neighborhoods, bookstores, and cinemas, but also its artists, authors, and intellectuals. It is a place of magical appeal, an artistic biotope, but also a place where the demons of the twentieth century still confront us.” – Bernd Scherer
In many of her films, exhibitions, and books, Ulrike Ottinger has portrayed herself as an ethnographer who takes us on long journeys to foreign cultures, showing herself participating in people’s daily lives and rituals. We sat together in Mongolian tents and attended the ceremonies of the female shamans; we were eyewitnesses to the winter rites which are celebrated amidst the Japanese New Year festivities; we retraced the tracks of the great global explorers; and we were introduced to the northernmost inhabitants of the Arctic, observing them fishing and going about their daily work.
With her new film, Ottinger opens a very different chapter to these expedition films. We now embark on a journey through time, leading us back to Paris in the 1960s. Uto- pian research differentiates between spatial and temporal utopias, but this film is both. It is a spatial utopia going, not to the ends of the world or into uncharted territory, but into the heart of the Parisian metropolis, and also a temporal utopia whose time lies, not in the future, but in the past. It is an autobiographical journey back to her own youth, to the years of her all-important coming of age.
Focusing specifically on this phase of her life, Ulrike Ottinger’s film forges a bridge between the then and now. Images intersect, meld, and overlap. This is at its most evident when the artist reappropriates the shop window of the former Librairie Calligrammes — in Saint-Ger- main-des-Prés quartier, Paris — for her own exhibition. Momentarily, the window display is swept clean and adorned with her own treasures: the collection of books she acquired at the time and which she has assiduously cultivated throughout the intervening years. Just like the window display, the entire film abounds with impressions, experiences, and memories. Yet, the period fifty years ago, the ”past present“ that she so vividly brings back to life, is receptive in equal measure to both the burden of a traumatic history and to the allure of an experimental and vibrant future.
Born in Konstanz, Germany in 1942. She worked as a painter and photographer in Paris from 1962–1968. She founded the Visuell film club in Konstanz in 1969, and led it until 1972; she also founded galeriepress, an art gallery and press. She has lived in Berlin since 1973. Alongside her film work she also produces operas and theatre and is present on the international art scene with photo exhibitions.
1973 Laokoon & Söhne. Die Verwandlungsgeschichte der Esmeralda del Rio (Laokoon & Sons. The Transformation of Esmeralda del Rio) · Berlinfieber – Wolf Vostell (Berlinfever – Wolf Vostell) 1975 Die Betörung der Blauen Matrosen (The Enchantment of the Blue Sailors) 1977 Madame X – Eine absolute Herrscherin (Madame X – An Absolute Ruler) · Madame X – Eine absolute Herrscherin (Madame X – An Absolute Ruler) 1979 Bildnis einer Trinkerin – Aller jamais retour (Ticket of No Return) · Bildnis einer Trinkerin – Aller jamais retour (Ticket of No Return) 1981 Freak Orlando. Kleines Welttheater in fünf Episoden (Freak Orlando) · Freak Orlando. Kleines Welttheater in fünf Episoden (Freak Orlando) 1984 Dorian Gray im Spiegel der Boulevardpresse (Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press) · Dorian Gray im Spiegel der Boulevardpresse (Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press) 1985 China. Die Künste – Der Alltag (China. The Arts – The People) · China. Die Künste – Der Alltag (China. The Arts – The People) 1986 Superbia 1987 Usinimage; short film · Usinimage 1989 Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia · Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia 1990 Countdown · Countdown 1992 Taiga. Eine Reise ins nördliche Land der Mongolen (Taiga. A Journey to Northern Mongolia) · Taiga. Eine Reise ins nördliche Land der Mongolen (Taiga. A Journey to Northern Mongolia) 1997 Exil Shanghai (Exile Shanghai) · Exil Shanghai (Exile Shanghai) 2002 Südostpassage (Southeast Passage) · Südostpassage (Southeast Passage) 2004 12 Stühle (12 Chairs) · 12 Stühle (12 Chairs) 2007 Prater · Prater 2008 Die Koreanische Hochzeitstruhe (The Korean Wedding Chest) · Die Koreanische Hochzeitstruhe (The Korean Wedding Chest) 2011 Unter Schnee (Under Snow) · Unter Schnee (Under Snow) 2016 Chamissos Schatten (Chamisso’s Shadow) · Chamissos Schatten (Chamisso’s Shadow) 2019 Paris Calligrammes
(Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020)
Here is the link to the trailer.