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Artist 117

VALIE EXPORT Body performance

VALIE EXPORT (born 1940) is an Austrian artist. Her artistic work includes video installations, body performance,, photography, and sculptures.

Austrian feminism was forced to address the fact that by the 1970s there was still a generation of Austrians whose attitudes towards women were based on Nazi ideology.

They also had to confront the guilt of their parents’ (mothers’) complacency within the Nazi regime. Export herself, before her political and artistic revolution, was a mother and a wife.

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).

In conversation with Gary Indiana for BOMB magazine, Export described her name-change:

"I did not want to have the name of my father [Lehner] any longer, nor that of my former husband Hollinger. My idea was to export from my 'outside' (heraus) and also export, from that port. The cigarette package was from a design and style that I could use, but it was not the inspiration."

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.

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.

She looks at power relations inherent in media representations inscribe women’s bodies.

Today’s focus is on her photos that work on the visualisation of inner relations through body postures. She uses architecture as a frame which the female body complements and which it stands into contrast to at the same time.

I urge you to look up her series like ‘aktionshose:genitalpanik’ (1969). She explores a defiance against male dominated views of female sexuality and takes charge of it.


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