About the artist

    Lives and works in Vienna
    1940: Was born in Linz

    Valie Export (often written as 'VALIE EXPORT') is an Austrian artist. 


    Her artistic work includes video installations, body performances, expanded cinema, computer animations, photography, sculptures and publications covering contemporary arts.

     

    Educated in a convent until the age of 14, Valie Export studied painting, drawing, and design at the National School for Textile Industry in Vienna, and briefly worked in the film industry as a script girl, editor, and extra. 


    In 1967, she changed her name to VALIE EXPORT (written in uppercase letters, like an artistic logo, shedding her father’s and husband’s names and appropriating her new surname from a popular brand of cigarettes). With this gesture of self-determination, Export emphatically asserted her identity within the Viennese art scene, which was then dominated by the taboo-breaking performance art of the Vienna Actionists such as Hermann Nitsch, Günter Brus, Otto Mühl, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler.

     

    Of the Actionist movement, Export has said, “I was very influenced, not so much by Actionism itself, but by the whole movement in the city. It was a really great movement. We had big scandals, sometimes against the politique; it helped me to bring out my ideas.” Like her male contemporaries, she subjected her body to pain and danger in actions designed to confront the growing complacency and conformism of postwar Austrian culture. But her examination of the ways in which the power relations inherent in media representations inscribe women’s bodies and consciousness distinguishes Valie Export’s project as unequivocally feminist.


    Valie Export’s early guerilla performances have attained an iconic status in feminist art history. In this avowedly revolutionary work, Valie Export wore a tiny "movie theater" around her naked upper body, so that her body could not be seen but could be touched by anyone reaching through the curtained front of the "theater." She then went into the street and invited men, women, and children to come and touch her. The media responded to Export's provocative work with panic and fear, one newspaper aligning her to a witch

    In her 1968 performance Aktionshose:Genitalpanik (Action Pants: Genital Panic), Valie 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 Valie Export brandishing a machine gun and challenging the audience, as depicted in the 1969 posters,however she claims this never occurred.

    The contrast with what is usually called "cinema" is obvious, and is crucial to the message. In Valie Export's performance, the female body is not packaged and sold by male directors and producers, but is controlled and offered freely by the woman herself, in defiance of social rules and state precepts. Also, the ordinary state-approved cinema is an essentially voyeuristic experience, whereas in Valie Export's performance, the "audience" not only has a very direct, tactile contact with another person, but does so in the full view of Valie Export and bystanders.


    Since 1995/1996 Valie Export has held a professorship for multimedia performance at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne.

     

    Source: Valie Export Wikipedia

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