Sunday, November 2, 2008

Index the Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation

A front figure in contemporary art since the 1960s, the Austrian artist VALIE EXPORT has played a pioneering and vital role in the development of performance and feminism and activist strategies as well as conceptual photography and film. Index presents an introductory exhibition of VALIE EXPORT's work which focuses on strategies for self-definition and feminism, including a selection of her films and performative photography.

In 1970 the artist adopted a new artistic identity with the name VALIE EXPORT, always written in capital letters, as an act of self-definition, and thus pointing out an objective which pervades her oeuvre. "Action Pants: Genital Panic", (1969) defines an active femininity which acts both politically and sexually.

In one of her first films, "Selbstportrait mit Kopf" (1966) the artist's face merge together with but also detaches from the image of an expected femininity, here expressed in a classical sculpture of a woman's head. "Mann & Frau & Animal" (1970-73) is an act of sexual self-definition but then also a survey of the relation between image and representation, something that reappears throughout her artistic career, beautifully expressed for instance in her film "Syntagma" (1984). The feature film "Unsichtbare Gegner" (1976), screened at Cinemateket Stockholm in November, is a science fiction with inspiration from Don Siegel's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956) and at the same time a strong and humoristic showdown pointing at the woman's alienation in society. Several elements from "Unsichtbare Gegner" can also be found in the later work "Syntagma". VALIE EXPORT very early on recycled images and sequences from her own production into new works, an artistic strategy that ques tions the traditional idea of the image's authenticity.

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