Freak Orlando, 1981

Freak Orlando (1981) is an outrageous time-travelling masquerade, structured in five episodes. Classified by Ottinger as Welttheater (World Theatre), it aims to encompass human history from its origins to the present, emphasising prejudice, incompetence, lust for power, fear, madness, cruelty and everyday life. Albeit with extreme irony, Ottinger revisits Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando: A Biography (1928), considered a landmark of modernist, feminist, queer and transgender writing, which follows a poet who lives for centuries, through various historical time-periods, and while doing so changes sex. Ottinger’s protagonists are a series of ‘disillusioned characters’ that recall carnival’s embracing of the marginalised, Tod Browning’s film Freaks (1932) and the photography of Diane Arbus. In this way, Ottinger blends Woolf’s novel with German camp into a theatre of difference.

Technical details

Original title:
Freak Orlando
Registration number:
Ottinger, Ulrike
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Audiovisual recording
35 mm film transferred to video, colour, sound, 122 min 3 s
Edition number:
Ed. 2/10
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
© Ulrike Ottinger, context: FREAK ORLANDO
It has accessibility resources:

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

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