VALIE EXPORT – The Photographs
EXPORT’s multimedia work eludes any simplistic categorisation or definition. As a pioneer of performance art, installation art and video art, EXPORT has consistently broken through the boundaries separating media genres, while using her own body as an artistic medium. Photography has always played a key role in her practice – be it for documentary or experimental purposes, as an element in multimedia installations or as art in its own right. It was not, however, merely used to make a complete document of EXPORT’s work. Rather, action and photography entered into a dialogue, creating a mutual dependency between them: on the one hand, actions were recorded (and ultimately communicated too) by means of photography; on the other, by virtue of their production, publication and reception EXPORT’s action photos acquired a status that was independent of the performances.
EXPORT’s focus on the critical examination of mechanisms of representation dates right back to the start of her career, when she began dealing with the different characteristics of the photographic image and imaging media, questioning the way they worked and subjecting photography to conceptual analysis by lifting the lid on the conditions governing the technical processes of image-making. Deconstructing the photographic gaze and its implicit power structures were of key importance here.
For EXPORT, the critical analysis of systems of representation invariably went hand in hand, in the context of both media and society, with a questioning of the male gaze directed at a body viewed as female. Making reference to her own body, she repeatedly probed the role of the woman, the artist and the subject in patriarchal sociopolitical structures. She explicitly couches her critique of the processes of depiction and representation in feminist terms: her work centres on the relationship between subject and space, body and gaze, femaleness and representation.
The exhibition VALIE EXPORT – The Photographs, which was devised in close collaboration with the artist, focuses on the impact that photography has had on her creative output. However, following the logic of EXPORT’s work, the exhibition not only presents photographs but also juxtaposes different media and works created between 1968 and 2007.
Curated by Walter Moser, the exhibition is staged in cooperation with the Albertina, Vienna.