DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

VALIE EXPORT Day

 

‘Waltraud Lehner was born in 1940 in Linz, Austria, and by 1967, she had become VALIE EXPORT. That year, despite or due to her upbringing in a convent, she underwent a personal revolution following her arrival in Vienna at the height of Actionism—a countercultural art movement known for graphic bodily mutilations and lawbreaking protests against artistic and societal pretensions. As a result, she combined an abbreviation of Waltraud with a reference to her preferred brand of cigarettes—Smart Export—to adopt the name VALIE EXPORT.

‘With her newfound identity, EXPORT rejected the naming of herself by men (her father and later her former husband) to take an anti-patriarchal stance that reflected her concerns with feminist issues and social change. Using the brand of a product, she also devised an artistic logo featuring her portrait pasted onto a cigarette pack. While essentially commodifying EXPORT, the emblem served to oppose the control and objectification of women in society and the female body in the media—a seemingly contradictory move that foreshadowed much of EXPORT’s work for the next four decades. Provocative, yet politically engaged, she often challenges herself and viewers by taking on roles and presenting imagery that she ultimately aims to critique. Moreover, her pseudonym demonstrates her ongoing concern with identity, a critical aspect of the way in which we experience reality, as well as her stated desire “to ‘export’ [herself], to bring ideas out of the harbor.”

‘Indeed, during the 1960s and 1970s EXPORT became known for racy guerrilla performances in which she (literally) brought herself and body out to the public, making her a pioneer in media, performance, and conceptual art. Her practice, however, comprises a wide range of media, including video, photography, installation, sculpture, and drawing, that she has exhibited in documenta 6 (1977) and documenta 12 (2007) as well as numerous other solo and group shows throughout the world. EXPORT also is an arts writer, feminist theorist, and distinguished filmmaker of narrative and documentary works, such as Die Praxis der Liebe (The Practice of Love), which was nominated in 1985 for a Golden Bear Award, the top prize of the Berlin International Film Festival.

‘In many ways, film and the cinematic experience have been central to EXPORT’s artistic practice, and they have been vehicles for articulating her feminist politics. EXPORT’s films, including her first feature Unsichtbare Gegner (Invisible Adversaries; 1976), often explore female psychic states that are counter-normative yet sincere and profound. Further, her performances critique the ways in which we understand popular cinematic representations, particularly those of the female body. One of her most (in)famous pieces— Aktionshose: Genitalpanik (Action Pants: Genital Panic; 1968)—took place in a Munich art cinema that was known for showing sexually explicit films. During a screening, EXPORT walked up and down the aisles wearing crotchless pants, daring male audience members to look at her real body rather than the imagery onscreen. Her presentation pointed to the irony of the ease and desire with which one looks at simulated, manipulated imagery of the nude female body while the confrontation of an actual body causes panic.’ — Landmarks

‘It should come as no surprise that Action Pants: Genital Panic (1969) has become Valie Export’s signature work. A volatile mix of Fluxus happening, Situationist subversion, Viennese actionism, media critique, sexual politics and anarcho-terrorism, the work continues to influence and elicit debate. A defiant gesture born of the turbulence of 1968, it teeters between ideological inspiration and hopeless nihilism. Problematic from every angle – is it an act of female empowerment or feminine hysteria? – Export’s anti-spectacle is, at heart, a paradoxical affirmation of the self via a masochistic (and militant) fragmentation and exposure.

‘The few photos from 1969 are now iconic: Export sitting on a stone bench, leaning against a wall, bare footed, in a tight leather jacket, legs spread with the crotch of her jeans cut out to reveal pubic hair and labia, her facial features set in a stony stare, machine gun clenched in her fists, hair teased into a puffy mane, à la Robert Smith circa 1984. As the title indicates, Export is ready for action, but not perhaps the kind you’d expect. Dressed to kill, she’s a subculture of one: her disobedient pseudonym, cut-up fashion and predilection for self-abuse anticipating Punk by half a decade. And, like Punk, which in the wake of failed Situationist efforts to overthrow the Spectacle, adopted a strategy of undermining the Capitalist machinery from within (hence the Sex Pistols much-lauded ‘swindle’) Export seized upon the media as a means of talking back.

‘One of the first female artists to exploit film and video, Export’s work, perhaps more than anything else, is a meditation on the mediated subject. Everywhere in her hybrid practice one discovers the camera’s lurking gaze, sometimes discreetly recording her public interventions, while, in others it becomes an explicit (and invasive) instrument of physical deconstruction. Continuously placing her own body at risk, Export’s performances are the links that connect Yoko Ono’s seminal Cut Piece (1965) with Chris Burden’s Through the Night Softly (1973). Indeed, Export’s Eros/ion (1971), for which she rolled naked on shards of broken glass, was done two years before Burden’s quite similar work. Those eight years, from 1965 to 1973, marked a fundamental shift in the way artists understood and affirmed the body. It was a shift from relatively tame acts of defiance to an aggressive taking up of arms, from civil disobedience to riots, from the body as a contested site to an all-out battleground.

‘As a part of her notion of ‘expanded cinema’, the body in Export’s work is continually cast against a screen which becomes the site of both the subject’s negation and affirmation. Deftly negotiating this shaky terrain, Export is admirable for neither completely resisting nor capitulating to the lure of the media, choosing instead to smartly rewrite the rules of the game, as in Ping Pong (1968), an ‘expanded movie’ where Export repeatedly hits a ping-pong ball against a blank, glowing film screen. In Touch and Tap Cinema (1968) the body and screen become one. It was an activity-based work in which Export stood on the street with a box around her torso and invited male passers-by to place their hands through curtains hung across the front and feel her bare breasts. The work countered the objectification of the body by creating a moment of self-reflexivity in which the relationship between spectacle and spectator was conflated and the spectator’s distancing gaze was met by Export’s own stare.

‘Perhaps more significant is the underlying theme of the subject merging with the technological/media apparatus to attain a measure of liberation. In Adjunct Dislocations (1973), for example, the artist is transformed into a technologically-enhanced entity. Strapping an 8 mm cameras to her chest and back, Export traversed a number of different environments, moving erratically in a purposely wayward trajectory while filming both ahead and behind. Having herself filmed in the process, the resultant piece projects all three films together, though not in sync, simultaneously placing the viewer inside and outside the artist’s body and further locating the subject in a space that is disjunctive, unbalanced and inverted.

‘Twenty years before Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto (1991) Export’s work proposed a subjective model based on a conscious process of transformation; a continual becoming something else; a continual moving elsewhere. Embracing the monstrous, the abject, the animal and the machine, Export presents a loaded, contradictory set of self-signifiers that cannot be easily absorbed, controlled or agreed on by either the spectacular commodity culture or the culture of criticism.’ — Charles LaBelle, Frieze

 

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Further

VALIE EXPORT Website
VE @ Ubuweb
VE @ Charim Galerie
VE @ Women Make Movies
‘Austrian City of Linz To Open Valie Export Center’
VE @ Electronic Arts Intermix
VE @ sixpackfilm
VE interviewed by Gary Indiana @ BOMB
VE @ reframing photography
‘The Anagrammatic Flesh. VALIE EXPORT’
VE @ mumok
‘The Uncanny in the Eyes of a Woman: Valie Export’s “Invisible Adversaries”‘
Book: ‘Valie Export: Time and Countertime’
VE page @ Facebook
‘Valie Export: Fragments of the Imagination’
‘Valie Export’s Understudy’
‘Finger Envy: A Glimpse into the Short Films of VALIE EXPORT’
VE @ Experimental Cinema
Book: ‘VALIE EXPORT Archiv’
‘Importing Valie Export: Corporeal Topographies in Contemporary Austrian Body Art’

 

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Extras


Reality (or Objectivity) is a Fake (1992), documentary about Valie Export


VALIE EXPORT – Artist Talk (English subtitles)


valie export (2008)


Video of the exhibition VALIE EXPORT – Time and Countertime


Valie Export von Claudia Müller – Teaser

 

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Interview

 

DEVIN FORE: An important claim of your early work was that the female body speaks the language of objects. For most of written history, men have been the authors of texts about the bodies of women.

VALIE EXPORT: In the 1960s, our attempts to cultivate a direct and uncontrolled language in art were based upon the idea that the dominant language was a form of manipulation. The plan was to circumvent these forms of social control and to develop other forms of language outside of the system dominated by men. This was the strength of the female body: to be able to express directly and without mediation. Much of the art of the time, from body art to video and direct performance, was concerned with similar issues. And then there was media art, which made it possible to express things directly, without having to rely on the written word, which as you said, was manipulated by men.

FORE: Your experimental film Syntagma [1983], parsed up and reframed the body through a variety of cinematic montage techniques—doubling the body through overlays, for example. After that film, it’s difficult to see the female body as something other than a constructed code. It’s hard to see it as something natural.

EXPORT: The female body has always been a construction. Even feminist art of the 1970s fashioned a body in accordance with its own ideas, and in this regard it was a form of manipulation too. Subsequently, we’ve had to engage with a lot of things that we used to disavow as manipulation. We can’t just dismiss everything as manipulations anymore, since the alternatives are constructions, too. From our perspective, from this corner of the planet, we have to admit that it’s all constructed. There is absolutely no nature. Nature is one of the biggest constructions.

FORE: So is time. For a period, your work was dedicated to analyzing time. In the 1970s, you were taking time apart and showing how it operates. In your installation Time and Countertime [1973], for example, you juxtaposed a bowl of melting ice with a video monitor showing another bowl in the same process of melting, only in reverse. Un-melting, so to speak. Today time is the dimension that everyone is preoccupied with—like the tremendous popularity of Christian Marclay’s recent video The Clock. But you seemed to be one of the first artists to recognize that globalization isn’t just about land or space. It also involves manipulating time and controlling it.

EXPORT: My interest in time emerged out of an engagement with the media that I was working with. Film and performance are temporal media. They rely on time. When I’m carrying out a performance, it matters, for example, how long I hold one particular gesture or posture. Seriality is very important too. Performance can be used to dilate time or to repeat time. And video, in turn, has its own time.

FORE: In a number of your works, it seems that the performer is trying to synchronize herself with the flow of time, but this attempt never quite succeeds, or if it does, it succeeds only for an instant. In Address Redress [1968], for example, a live actor delivers a speech in front of a pre-recorded audience that applauds and cheers her on at various intervals. Or in Ping Pong [1968], another actor, who stands opposite a film showing a dot slowly appearing and receding, tries to hit the dot with a ping-pong paddle. The timing in these films is awkward and doesn’t sync up.

EXPORT: Well, time in video is totally different from time in celluloid. With video, I can show you something that’s unfolding in the present. I can show you what’s happening at the intersection down the street right now. It’s live. Film, on the other hand, always has to be developed beforehand, so there’s a structural delay. But the celluloid image also has a strict permanence. With video, I no longer see the image since it has already disappeared. The image dissolves and is immediately replaced by another before your eyes. And digital recording presents still other issues that are distinct from film and video at a very basic technical level. Its images are made out of a different material. I’ve always been interested in the material basis of artworks and images, whether that’s canvas or a film screen. Painting is an interesting case, but painting was for me too historical, too conventional. Of course, all forms of art are conventional, but in the ’60s we began to turn to other media, other materials for conveying images. I wanted to interact with the canvas and to agitate the canvas. Using skin or paper as screens, I explored how the quality of the image changed in different media and across different materials. My work became more and more ephemeral as I moved increasingly toward images that exist in the mind. These were images without any material basis. Some of them don’t even exist in documentation when I’m finished. And so ultimately I arrived at a philosophical question: How do I express a fugitive image that exists only in the mind?

FORE: If, like many of your works, Genital Panic was a personal experiment, what did you learn from that particular experiment?

EXPORT: In 1969, I was invited to a film screening. I was wearing the action pants as a cinema action and I entered the movie theater saying, “Was Sie sonst auf der Leinwand sehen, sehen Sie hier in der Realität” [“Now you will see in reality what you normally see on the screen”]. It was a movie theater in Munich with a completely normal audience, so I walked through the seats, on display—nothing else, just on display. And some of the people in the audience got up, or at least all the ones in the back because they could get out the easiest. [laughs] The fact that this was reality was something that was unbearable to them. The action was designed to challenge the voyeurism of cinema. I was trying to develop a completely new, nonvoyeuristic approach to the female body as something other than a visual object. I wanted to find out what happened when you leave behind this voyeuristic mode and confront people with reality. But the fact of the matter is that they just walked away from it. That’s what was so interesting for me to discover: People don’t want to see reality. All of the time they just don’t want to see reality. It’s a pretty simple idea, really, this question of how we deal with reality. When something is constructed, when it’s projected onto a screen, it’s acceptable, but it’s different when it’s there in front of you in a public space.

FORE: And TOUCH CINEMA? That work tackles voyeurism as well.

EXPORT: There were numerous iterations of that piece, and each time I delivered a text about voyeurism in the cinema, about how the gaze works in the darkness of the movie theater, and about how it’s different on the street, out in the open. In public, everyone can see the faces of the visitors too, and how they visit it with their hands. My speeches were improvised, so I can’t recall them exactly, but they always had to do with the performance in the different cities.

FORE: How did people react? Were they aggressive?

EXPORT: I got very different responses. The first time I did it, which was at a film festival in Vienna, it caused something of a riot in the auditorium when a filmmaker yelled out, “Is this even film? Do we have to put up with this?” But the other performances of TOUCH CINEMA in Amsterdam, London, and other cities were quite lively and the audiences were excited in a very positive way. Only once, in Cologne, were the visitors to TOUCH CINEMA aggressive. The time we did the piece in Cologne, a performer named Erika Mies wore the box, and I spoke about cinema. We were both women, and people became very aggressive.

 

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Expanded Cinema as Expanded Reality
by VALIE EXPORT

 

“Expanded cinema”, i.e. the expansion of the commonplace form of film on the open stage or within a space, through which the commercial-conventional sequence of filmmaking – shooting, editing (montage), and projection – is broken up, was the art-form that I chose in the mid-1960s when I realised that the course of my life would lead me through the history of art. During this period I had already completed a course of study in painting, and it was clear to me that I would turn towards the image, but this linage would be the living, expanded one. I had been particularly impressed during my student years by cubism, constructivism, and futurism, and thus with the form and extension of artistic expression in(to) space, and the related element, time; the interconnection between light and movement, processes that irritated my educated way of seeing; and above all the image, and an “actionist” method for dealing with the image. Later I made feature films, to the extent that the situation – and by this I mean the financial situation – allowed it, but in all of my films there occur elements of the film medium that I have won through my own experiences with, and deliberations on, expanded cinema. I always see film as a sculpture that, for me, has varying levels of ways of observing it.

I have found a way to continue expanded cinema in my physical performances in which I, as the centrepoint for the performance, position the human body as a sign, as a code for social and artistic expression.

Today, expanded cinema is the electronic, digital cinema, the simulation of space and time, the simulation of reality. The expanded cinema of the 1960s, as part of the alternative or independent cinema, was an analysis carried out in order to discover and realise new forms of communication, the deconstruction of a dominant reality. Expanded Cinema must also be seen within the context of the development of the political situation in the ’50s and ’60s – on the one hand, in the revolts of the student movement that waged an attack against dominant oppressive state power, and, on the other, in the artistic developments of this period that sought a new definition of the concept of art. Its aesthetic was aimed at making people aware of refinements and shifts of sensibility, the structures and conditions of visual and emotional communication, so as to render our amputated sense of perception capable of perception again. It was a matter of abolishing old, outdated aesthetic values.

The bankruptcy of European culture in 1945, the attempt to jump over the graves of 25 years of political darkness and to find a connection with the avant-garde movements of the 1920s and the avant-garde that had been exiled left their imprint on the efforts of the artistic groups of the postwar period. While the majority of the European population turned blithely toward a purely economic project of restoration, groups of artists and intellectuals attempted to uncover the foundations of European crisis and culture, and to find new constellations by connecting with oppressed and forgotten movements in art and thought, from Dada to Surrealism, from linguistic philosophy to constructivism. This mood also redefined concepts of cinema and film.

In 1916, Marinetti, Analdo Ginna, Giacomo Balla, Bruno Corra, Emilio Settimelli, and Remo Chiti wrote, in the manifesto “Futurist Cinema”, that “cinema is an autonomous art, one must face the cinema as an expressive medium in order to make it the ideal instrument of a new art, immensely vaster and lighter than all existing arts. It must become deforming, impressionistic, synthetic, dynamic, free-thinking. We are convinced that only in this way can one reach the poly-expressiveness toward which all the most modern artistic research is moving.”

The rediscovery and incorporation of modern linguistic philosophy, psychoanalysis, modern music, etc, served as nourishment for (re)building a culture that had been destroyed. The period of the 1950s and 1960s was a segment of history marked by artistic innovation and political provocation. Young artists ransacked antique shops and archives to find spiritual nourishment beyond the groundwork that had been laid waste. The purpose of these innovations and provocations was to break out of traditional artistic representations, the inclusion of reality as a means of expression and to overstep the limits of individual artistic categories vis-à-vis one another such as language, painting, film, and theatre. Art is brought radically into question so as to bring artistic thought and intention to new forms for communication. In 1966, Stan Vanderbeek wrote in Film Culture‘s “Expanded Arts” edition: “Everything expands, in all directions, there is a interconnection between all of the arts, literally between them all, and this is what it is about. I mean, let’s say that art and life really should be one, and let’s see what happens if we really make them one.”

Expanded cinema is, as Birgit Hein writes, “not a stylistic concept, but rather a general indicator for all works that go beyond the individual film projection.” It means multiple projections, mixed media, film projects, and action films, including the utopia of “pill” films and cloud films. “Expanded cinema” also refers to any attempts that activate, in addition to sight and hearing, the senses of smell, taste, and touch. Nicolaus Beaudin spoke in 1921 of a poly-level poetry which transmits the poetic synchronism of thoughts and sensations as a kind of film with images, smells, and sounds.” In the mid-1920s, Moholy-Nagy had suggested rippling screens in the form of landscapes of hills and valleys, movable projectors, apparatuses that made it possible “to project illuminated visions into the air, to simultaneously create light sculptures on fog or clouds of gas or on giant screens.”

The concept of “expanded cinema” was established in Europe in the mid-1960s within the context of the far-reaching movement of Expanded Arts and is a part of the structural film inquiry which grappled above all with the foundations of the medium.

In Expanded Cinema, the film phenomenon is initially split up into its formal components, and then put back together again in a new way. The operations of the collective union which is film, such as the screen, the cinema theatre, the projector, light and celluloid, are partially replaced by reality in order to install new signs of the real. The cinematic image is freed from its traditional image character through the exchangeability and simulation of its signifiers. The filmic artwork was no longer understood only in its symbolic expression, but replaced by signs of the real; the media-technical separation of image and sound was transformed into reality. Sound was no longer a trace applied to the image material, but originated in the gasps in front of the microphone. The figures were not created on celluloid, but through holes in the celluloid; the breasts were no longer a sign on the screen, but were themselves the screen. The mission of the Futurists was fulfilled in the multimedia, intermedia activities of Expanded Cinema under the motto of the expanded concept of art. It made it possible to engage individually in every element of the collective form “cinema” to re-form and re-interpret context in such a way that not only the apparative art is liberated from the confining mechanism; rather, it also frees image-connected thought from its constraints. The Expanded Cinema, which can also be referred to as the liberated cinema, is part of the tradition of liberated sound whose project was initiated at the turn of the century. Expanded cinema is a collage expanded around time and several spatial and medial layers, which, as a formation in time and space, breaks free from the two-dimensionality of the surface.

The intermedia techniques, the destruction and abstraction of the material, as well as the film projection and participation of the audience, were among the prerequisites of the expanded cinema.

In 1967, Peter Weibel and I developed our “Expanded Cinema” in Vienna. We examined the relationship between reality and the apparatus that registered it. The media of expression and representation were themselves brought into this discourse. The expansion of our film work proceeded initially from the material concept; thus the “illusion” film was transformed into the material film, and in this way the foundations of the film medium were reflected. Film was brought back once again to its value as a medium, liberated from any linguistic character which it had taken on in the course of its development. The formal arrangement of the elements of film, whereby elements are exchanged or replaced by others – for example, electric light by fire, celluloid by reality, a beam of light by rockets – had an effect which was artistically liberating and yielded a wealth of new possibilities, such as film installations and the film-environment. In the production of the film medium, celluloid is only one aspect that could (also) be deleted. Instead of the projected image, the film strip itself can become a site for expanding the medium and, consequently, if the celluloid becomes a filmic image as material rather than through projection, a transparent PVC-foil, held before one’s eyes, can supply the desired image, since if the user projects his own image of the world onto the foil, he sees the world in accordance with his-own image. This was the “Instant Film” that I invented together with Peter Weibel. We wrote the following about it in 1968:

“’Instant Film’ is a meta-film that reflects the system of film and reality. After the development of instant coffee and instant milk, we have finally succeeded in inventing the ‘instant film’, which is screen, projector, and camera in one. Assembling them is a matter for the viewer. He can hang the foil at home on his own four walls, on four screens, or on different coloured backgrounds, he can place the foil in front of an object and in such a way design his own collage. A foil which has been prepared with scissors, cigarettes, etc., supplies at any given moment ‘vistas’ or ‘insights’, ‘views’ directed inwards or outwards.”

In any case, the axiom that “film requires celluloid” was destroyed, just as the axiom, “film is dependent on the screen” was repudiated, since the represented object – such as furniture, a field, an animal or man – can itself become a projection surface, which is perceived by the subject, and the environment centered by the camera is projected onto the subject itself. The film itself can be completed by the life action of the filmmaker.

 

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Selected Works

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Cutting (performance, 1967-1968)
‘In Cutting, the artist cuts out text from a large sheet of paper, and then cuts the clothes and body hair of an immobile man. This is one of a series of works in which VALIE EXPORT explores the meaning of editing, using film editing or montage as a central metaphor. Writes EXPORT, “Celluloid is not cut, but the materials that are cut are individually transformed and applied to other binding elements of the film which are also abstracted and transformed.”‘ — Electronic Arts Intermix

 

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Touch Cinema (performance/video, 1968)
‘Both manifested yet hidden, what is visible becomes what is felt through the sense of touch, and what is obvious is merged with what is concealed. The title evokes the shock of contact – an act that dissipates the border between the individual body and the social body; a gesture that remains as exhibitionistic as it is introspective in VALIE EXPORT’s work. She stands in front of a movie theatre, and we notice a film poster behind her: Der Mann mit Dem Goldenen Arm. The box is closed and people slide their hands in for a duration timed by the artist herself, her gaze locked to the hands of her watch. Her face remains impassive and distant. VALIE EXPORT offers only skin. Once inserted, it is as though the hands were cut off from the world. It is possible to see a metaphor for castration in this, insofar as the dissociation of touch and sight prevent the experience from being of an erotic nature. People touch her breasts, yet she cannot feel it physically or emotionally. VALIE EXPORT clearly explains the meaning of Tapp und Tastkino: “A woman’s first steps from object to subject. She freely shows her breasts and no longer follows any kind of social dictates. The fact that everything happens in the street and that the consumer could be anybody, man or woman, constitutes an infraction that reveals the taboo of homosexuality.’ — Roswitha Mueller


Brief excerpt


Remake of VALIE EXPORT’S ‘Touch Cinema’ by Valie Export Society, 2000

 

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Action Pants: Genital Panic (performance, 1969)
‘In her 1968 performance Aktionshose: Genitalpanik (Action Pants: Genital Panic), Export entered an art cinema in Munich, wearing crotchless pants, and walked around the audience with her exposed genitalia at face level. The associated photographs were taken in 1969 in Vienna, by photographer Peter Hassmann. The performance at the art cinema and the photographs in 1969 were both aimed toward provoking thought about the passive role of women in cinema and confrontation of the private nature of sexuality with the public venues of her performances. Apocryphal stories state that the Aktionshose: Genitalpanik performance occurred in a porn theater and included Export brandishing a machine gun and challenging the audience, as depicted in the 1969 posters, however she claims this never occurred.’ — collaged


Marina Abramovic performs Valie Export’s Genitalpanik (2006)

 

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Ping Pong (performance/film, 1969)
‘With the ball and raquet you have to try to hit the dots that appear on the screen. A film to play with – a players’ film. Stripped of semantics, the relationship between viewer and screen becomes clear: stimulus and reaction. The aesthetic of conventional film is a physiology of behaviour, its mode of communication a perceptual event. ‘Ping Pong’ explicates the relationship of power between producer (director, screen) and consumer (viewer). In it, what the eye tells the brain occasions motor reflexes and responses. ‘Ping Pong’ makes visible the ideological conditions. Viewer and screen are partners in a game with rules dictated by the director, a game requiring screen and viewer to come to terms with each other. To this extent, the viewer’s response is active. But the controlling character of the screen could not be demonstrated more clearly: no matter how involved the viewer becomes with the game and plays with the screen, his status as consumer is hardly affected – or not at all.’ — Valie Export

 

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KRIEGSKUNSTFELDZUG im rahmen der „Underground Explosion“ / „W.I.R. sind W.A.R.“ (performance, 1969)
‘In 1969, EXPORT was critically injured by incensed visitors to her KRIEGSKUNSTFELDZUG exhibit — in which she and Webel threw projectiles at the audience.’ — collaged

 

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Body Sign Action (performance, 1970)
‘In “Body Sign Action” the artist tattoos a suspender on her thigh, an image of female submission and seduction. Through appropriation and renegotiation of a generally accepted image of femininity and sexuality, “Body Sign Action” proposes a different and more active definition.’ — collaged

 

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Touching, Body Poem (video installation, 1970)
Touching, Body Poem is a classic of conceptual video. Four monitors arranged in two columns show the soles of feet while walking.’ — Wiki

 

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VALIE EXPORT—SMART EXPORT (photography, 1970)
‘VALIE EXPORT—SMART EXPORT shows the artist posing defiantly in the style of the youth protest movement of the late 1960s, holding a package of Austrian Smart Export cigarettes with her own face and logo mounted on it.’ — collaged

 

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…….remote……..remote (video/performance, 1973)
‘With sometimes painful directness, Valie Export conducts a psychological investigation of the body in this film performance, externalizes an internal state. In front of a police photo showing two children who were sexually abused by their parents, she tortuously cuts into her cuticles until blood drips into a bowl of milk on her lap. On top of the symbolic plane of blood and milk, the physical effect on the viewer of her destructive act of self-mutilation is extreme.’ — Media Art Net

 

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Adjunct Dislocations II (film/performance, 1973)
‘In Adjunct Dislocations II, VALIE EXPORT’s body serves as a tripod supporting two 8mm cameras, attached to the front and back of the upper part of her torso, which simultaneously films in two opposing directions – in front of the artist and behind her. The camera films paintings filled with lines and a space defined by transparent surfaces, a kind of spiral installation in which VALIE EXPORT wanders at an uneven pace. The movements she makes, as unobtrusive as they are, gradually change the linear forms that appear on the monitors that are placed around the spatial arrangement, and are transmitted simultaneously. Technology and the body are two interfaces that interact in real time and in a physical space. The artist moves about between the different elements, all the while following the same process – a perpetual to-and-fro – that disturbs the viewer’s gaze. The artist’s body is transformed here into a technological entity that maps out a specific location. Body and machine produce an event rather than a representation. There is no pre-recorded image in the created space.’ — collaged


Excerpts

 

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INVISIBLE ADVERSARIES (film, 1976)
‘Breaking free of conventional unities of body, space and time, this early feature by one of Europe’s leading feminist filmmakers is a haunting excursion into psychic disintegration and crumbling identity. It loosely covers one year in the life of Anna, a young Viennese photographer increasingly convinced that the Hyksos, a hostile alien force, are invading people’s bodies and responsible for the decay and rising violence around her. Valie Export skillfully exploits montage and integrates video, performance and installation art with elements from Cubism, Surrealism, Dada and avant-garde cinema. “The film feels a little as if Godard were reincarned as a woman and decided to make a feminist version of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” -Amy Taubin.’ — Spectacle Theater


Trailer

 

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Homomeeter II (performance, 1976)
‘Valie Export Society’s Homomeeter II is a remake of a public performance Homometeer II by EXPORT from 1976. For this, the three women artists stood on a street in Tallinn with a loaf of bread tied to their stomachs, offering to cut off a piece for passers-by.’ — React Feminism

 

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Geburtenbett (sculpture, 1980)
Geburtenbett (1980) by Valie Export comprises a large rusty bed, with an old TV monitor where the pillow should be, playing, on a loop, a recording of the transubstantiation from a Catholic mass. A pair of severed fibreglass reinforced synthetic resin legs “give birth” all the while to a stream of red neon.’ — ANNA McNAY

 

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MENSCHENFRAUEN (film, 1980)
‘Valie Export’s daring film about relationships, MENSCHENFRAUEN (loosely translated, “humanwomen”), focuses on Franz S., a journalist, and his relationship with four women: the kindergarten nurse Petra, the teacher Gertrude, barmaid Elisabeth and his wife Anna. Franz “doles out honorary pieces of himself to the ‘human women’ in his seraglio, whispers the same assurances. Eventually, everyone catches on and makes some effort toward independence” (East Village Eye). “A landmark film…Valie Export achieves in MENSCHENFRAUEN what Godard strove for but failed in his EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF–a human view of a woman’s place in a man’s world…From credits to close, MENSCHENFRAUEN eludes conventional cinematic vision” (Seattle Film Festival). In German with English subtitles.’ — Facets Multimedia


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Syntagma (film, 1983)
‘The body and specifically the “woman’s body” is often used as a focus for questions of origin, subject-object relations, political resistance and sexuality. Valie Export’s notion of “body language” poses an ironic relation to these questions that acknowledges “the end of the body” or at least the final break with the way in which we understand it to be a biological, existential, or metaphysical entity. Export has broken away from any notion of unity – either body, space, or time – into the fragmented world of doubling and difference that is caught in representation.’ — Sixpack Film


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Practicing Love (film, 1984)
‘Judith is a journalist. She investigates an unsolved fatal accident in a Viennese subway station and comes across an international gun running organization. Her affair with Dr. Josef Fischoff, a physician, is not doing well and Judith sleeps badly and has terrible nightmares. She has another friend, Alfons Schlögel, an industrialist, who is also involved in the gun running affair. Slowly, Judith gets an idea of what is happening. She now sees that Schlögel is trying to use her. He manages to get hold of the damaging evidence against him and Judith goes to the police but they do nothing. She realizes the hopelessness of what she is trying to do. And her personal problems have not been solved. Video-control in subway stations and in street traffic, tapes and cameras are very important for the structure of this film. Mediocrity, hypocrisy and violence are the film’s main themes. Valie Export deals with them on private, social and media levels, adhering to the techniques of video avant-garde.’ — AFC


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A Perfect Pair (film, 1986)
A Perfect Pair posits the idea that individual consumers are walking billboards for the products they use; product slogans and brand names peeking out from every crevice and cranny of the actors’ bodies. Export demonstrates how the body of the consumer, especially that of the female consumer, is co-opted by commercialism. In tongue-in-cheek fashion, A Perfect Pair celebrates the modern-day co-mingling of fetish objects, as a body builder seduces a prostitute at a bar saying, “Your eyes are the most beautiful blue ad-space. Your cheek could promote a Mercedes. Your neck could be a slogan for styled technology.” Export’s work is centered around the evolving role of women in a culture where images increasingly displace material reality. A Perfect Pair wonderfully illustrates the inescapability of advertising’s “regime of signs”, the signifying network of personal and product values that is effectively encoded on the space of women’s bodies.’ — autohystoria


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Empty Windshields (installation, 1990)

 

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Wellen (Zyklus) (drawings, 2003)

 

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Glottis (installation, 2007)
‘The glottis, the vocal cords, are symbols of the voice / they divide two phenomena / the voice inside, the breath / and the voice outside / the phenomenon of vocalization / of speech formation. // The echo of the hidden vocal cords / speaks throught the visible lips of the mouth. // Turbulences of breath / formulate the expulsion of air / that opens the glottis / tears it apart / bursts through it // Turbulences that cut into the vocal cords / that score the banks of the vocal orifice’. — Valie Export

 

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Kalashnikov (sculpture, 2007)

 

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i turn over the pictures of my voice in my head (video/performance, 2008)
‘The artist reads a text while her vocal cords are being filmed. Based on a performance on the occasion of the Venice 2007 biennial. ‘The voice is my identity, it is not body or spirit, it is not language or image, it is sign, it is a sign of the images, it is a sign of sensuality. It is a sign of symbols, it is boundary…” — iffr

 

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Berührung/en der Bewegung (computer work, 2014)

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** James, Hi. Yeah, thanks for the JW congrats. We’re super chuffed, obviously. Oh, I think Chip and I are good, aren’t we? That’s ancient history now. I don’t care anymore. Great, obviously, that you’ll be in SF for the PGL screening! I’ll announce where and when as soon as I am allowed. I’m pretty certain it’s not at the Castro Theater. Best of the best to you today! xo, me. ** David Ehrenstein, hi. Ha ha, it’s not that bad. The next few days are key because Macron is meeting with the protesters, and there’s a big parliamentary debate about things. He’s cornered, and, basically, he will have to relent in some way because the only other options are more violent protests and/or imposing martial law, and so on, and the entire country will basically revolt if he doesn’t back down. We will see, but, as for today, things run usually. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Yes, PGL will return to NYC, but I’m not sure about the specifics yet. Our distributor is setting that up. I’ll let you know. And thanks for wanting to review the film. Thus far, the insurgency has been very interesting and ‘fun’ in a weird way and not much more than a hassle for us Parisians who haven’t had our property destroyed. The protests haven’t even come close to the level of violence and chaos of the LA ‘riots’ in the 90s, which I was there for, and which were quite thrilling. Quite strange that that Super Furry Animals album is so hard to come by. Very odd. Yes, ‘Daisies’, there’s one that totally slipped my mind. ** John Bloomberg-Rissman, Hi, John. Thank you very much, and welcome! If you want to write to Semiotext(e) and encourage them, that would be a good thing as, as I understand it, the reprint is not a done deal. I’ve written to strongly encourage them as well. Thanks again. Come back anytime! ** Bill, Hi, Bill. All is calm here today so far. It’ll probably be quiet-ish until the government and the protesters, who are meeting today, either come to an agreement or don’t. Wow, Laurie Anderson and Fred Frith did a collaboration. performance? Wow. Fred Frith! I haven’t heard what he’s been doing for ages. I’ll rectify that. The Recombinant Fest looks super interesting. SF was on a roll there. Very nice. ** Dominik, Hi! Cool, I’m glad you attended the edible beauty pageant. My picks: the one at the top for absolutely sure. Otherwise, I’m still pondering. I was really into the cloud-landscape one until I realised it’s only available in Bordeaux, so that’s out. I’ll let you know. We’re having a brief rain break here today. So far, I should say. Hatsune Miku was great, huge fun. The whole thing with ‘her’ is so cool, like that she doesn’t sing about love and sex and stuff, except from afar with confusion or curiosity, but only about things that a hologram might sing about. The crowd was really surprisingly mixed. Cosplay kids, yeah, and lots of people with wigs and dyed hair to mimic her style, but also people of all ages and stripes. I was surprised by that. And everyone knew all of the songs and sang along, which is interesting since ‘she’ hasn’t had any hits here by any means. Fascinating. I’ll be spiritually counting down your job days with you. Every time I crack open a window on my chocolates-filled advent calendar, I’ll think of your ever-waning stint. And nice about your brother’s arrival. Yeah, it’s pretty impossible not to get Xmas-y here since the whole city is bedecked now, and the guys selling roasting chestnuts are on the corners. I’ll have the best week I can, and you do too, and let’s share the highlights! ** Wolf, Wolfnderland! Ooh, I’ll let you know about the Buching. I know we’ll try to do one with Michael, Bene, and their little one before they head off for their Australian Xmas, so just before the big day? I’ll let you the scoop when it exists just in case. Arendt! Wow, that’s an eyeful, and very tempting, and weirdly — don’t ask me how because I don’t know — Xmas-y. Am I nuts? The ICA PGL gig is for sure unless they suddenly pull a fast one. Based on what they said, it seems like it will be before the 12th, but I’m waiting for the date. I want to see the Cabinet show, so if the PGL thing doesn’t happen in that window, Zac and I will come over before the show ends. I was going to go for the opening, but I’m too swamped with work, and I really hate art openings. If you go, selfie yourself with all the art celebs. Like I said above, I don’t think Macron has a choice but to back down to some degree, as violently as he will hate doing so. If he doesn’t, people will go completely insane. I think he’s really fucked himself by cold-shouldering the growing dislike of his policies. We’ll see. Big meeting with the insurgency today. But, yeah, he doesn’t have a choice but to relent, I don’t think. It’s just how far. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Cool, glad the Smith book intrigued you. It’s super fun and really needs to be republished. I really want to see ‘Shoplifting’. I wonder if it’s open here. ** Keatimo17, That’s like an escort name. That’s how the ones who are under 18 ‘secretly’ let potential clients know their actual age. You know, ‘TotalBottom16, 18’, etc. Coolness re: your new job’s coolness! I’ve never gotten into Freud. It’s too … something. Ha ha, nice finale there, man! ** Damien Ark, Hi. Mm, well, if you’re in a low state, I would advise waiting it out before you get too heavy about the sometimes hassle-filled public part of being an artist. That part kind of has to happen unemotionally, approached like the hassle part of having a job or being in school. And it’s not necessarily a worst case scenario. And it’s definitely hardest at the beginning. So, yeah, I would put off deciding that the hard parts are too hard for you to be worth being an artist until you’re feeling more even keeled. You might surprise yourself. Thanks for the well wishes about my part in the Paris insurgency. I’ll be fine no matter how tough it gets, I think? ** Misanthrope, He’s way into numerology, like, super extremely obsessively. That’s a big part of the fun of his stuff. It’s not just the fuel tax, but that is a big deal to people in rural areas who need to drive to their work. It’s about all kinds of Macron’s reforms and attempts to dismantle ages-long standing things. And about his high favoritizing of the rich and corporations and his expecting the less well off to shoulder the government’s financial burdens, which is business as usual in the USA, but not here. It’s an interesting moment. Well, LPS is getting close to the age where his shit is going to start to be taken seriously in a way that could actually fuck up his life, so it does seem like it’s time for him to get over himself. Fingers crossed. ** MANCY, Hi, S! Exciting about the potential projects! Say more when you can. I hope you get to change employers with ultra-smoothness if the stress is eating at you. The war zone is kind of fun. Spoken as someone who hasn’t had shit of mine damaged. But if it escalates anymore, and it might if Macron doesn’t back down, it will definitely stop being fun. Last weekend was really very borderline serious and dangerous. But we’ll see. Have a super swell Tuesday, man! ** Right. I think I did a post about VALIE EXPORT on my murdered blog, but I couldn’t find it, so I made a fairly big, thorough new post. She’s great. It’s only a good thing to know her work if you don’t. Give that a shot please. See you tomorrow.

6 Comments

  1. Valie Export is a welcome Blast From the Past. Her films were quite popular on the experimental circuit.

    Macron has backed down. It was announced this morning that the gas tax is being removed.

    An interesting piece about fake writers

    Yes I well recall the L.A. riots.

  2. Yep, congrats on PGL shout out from Mr. Waters. Paris sounds vibrant at the moment, though as you say the French protest a lot though this seems bigger, from what I read Marcon was going to back down on some tax he had in mind, which may assuage some people, though I think the issues are broader than one tax item. If PGL comes back to NY, would you guys come? I can’t imagine you can keep up with it now. Don’t over do the sweet thing? or is that asking the impossible at this time of year. Awesome to get another mention for THEM, right? rehearsed the band for my birthday gig the other day, tight and messy, just as it should be. here’s the set list in order, if you’re interested and yes I am going to record it and get you copy. awesome band btw. Getting Going – Robert Pollard, Crest – Stereolab, Missed, PJ Harvey, Hola, On Danse – Fred Frith – Keep the dog – a bizarre a symmetrical loop from a Tom Petty song, no vocals, Via the Spectrum Road – Tony Williams Lifetime, Lamia, – Genesis, me basically playing a Steve Hackett solo, a loop from Gojira, till the end of the day, Big Star cover of the Kinks, Rising – Yoko, Gone Again – Patti Smith, Fall of Saigon – This Heat, the a song of mine, ending with some Hindu prayer, a yes lot’s of noise making and improving amidst it all – you know it’s my 60th Birthday. It’s always interesting to hear about your process of writing, is it similar for gif novels also? Love the blog, check it daily. Didn’t know the work of Valie Export. anyway love to you and Zac

  3. Have things calmed down in your neighborhood now that Macron withdrew his tax?

    Yeah, it’s weird how hard that album was to track down. There’s this current idea that every album and film ever made is available at an instant to stream or download, and we have more access to art now than people ever had, but it’s not true (even if I prefer the present to the time circa 1990 when Tim Buckley’s STARSAILOR was reissued on CD, my copy was stolen, that edition went out of print within a few years and it took me at least 15 years to be able to get another CD.)

    If PGL plays New York again, even if only for a one-off screening, I’ll see if I can write about it for GCN or maybe another outlet like Kinoscope.

  4. The Turner Prize 2018 was tonight awarded to Glasgow-based Charlotte Prodger who makes short film clips on her iPhone. I’m not really familiar with her work but there’s a Tate film about her here and the ideas are compelling. Plus it’s nice to see some Cove Park scenery there too.

    We had the final short story class this evening and I’ve found the course really worthwhile. I’ll be getting some detailed individual feedback nexct week but for now I’m happy with what I produced, which was the untitled story about a schoolboy with an online gambling addiction. There’ll be further classes organised in the new year so watch this space I guess.

  5. She is making the symbol of “indeterminate analysis”. “object a-A-” the hysterics fantasy. i am woman hear me roar. “the mystery of the sphinx” we see the hysterics discourse in protest, its inversion is actually the formula for science, where the obsessives is capitalism. this is a symbol of failure in either place on the part of the analysand or the analyst. when the analyst allows for a failure in grammar then the industry collapses without binary. the movement is typically the inversion of the analysts discourse however that is true movements ones like we commonly know are nothing but the searching out of a lack of a lack. the symbol of lack. as Rick Ross said, “Never Enough”. Haha, if i could talk like Avital Ronnell, id be a slayer. if I could write like Kristeva, I wouldn’t. I miss the days when I felt the vaginas had a chance, then they all just disappeared. I love these works, and this time in art. Many of my friends will say “vagina” ew, I say stir it like a shovel and take a whiff.
    I’m glad I have time to wait on PGL. I’m still picking up Cattle like it’s got the cover to Scanners on it haha. Hide those bodies well mon cher. I remember I realized it when I saw those two boys standing in the metro. It was probably at Trone, I looked at them and thought they are dressed too well to be begging. That’s when the one all of 14 said to me, “Why don’t you join us?” and later my brain added “… in hell!” They were just standing there. Haha, you know its like clockwork, i move to town and the hottest babes are hitting me up right away. pick the chick farthest out of my league and she comes after me, i dont get it. i love me some twink. “what took you so long? theres no camera on that door of the school…” but slowly that is roasting into a fine appreciation of burning 200.00 an hour on a Turbo Lover. The blogs been great. Like that Phobe Kates monologue in Gremlins, its almost Christmas…

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