Close Up

27 - 30 October 2016: Close-Up on VALIE EXPORT

I was born at the hospital which belongs to the city of Linz

I suckled at the breast which belongs to my mother

I hid from the bombs that belonged to the country of England

I wore the clothes that belonged to my sister

I cried for my father, whose death belonged to the fatherland

I played with the balls that belonged to the nursery school

I read the books that belonged to the library

I rode in trains that belonged to the government

I sat on chairs that belonged to others

I lived on money that belonged to my boyfriend

I breathed the air that belonged to God

That’s the life that belongs to me.

I screamed with the voice that belongs to me
I bit with the teeth that belong to me
I scratched with the fingernails that belong to me
I cried with the tears that belong to me
I saw with the eyes that belong to me
I thought the thoughts that belong to me
I laughed with the laughter that belongs to me
I kissed with the mouth that belongs to me
I slept with the dreams that belong to me
That’s the life that belongs to me.

VALIE EXPORT, from Gedichte, 1966

Close-Up is thrilled to present a retrospective on the moving-image works of radical Austrian artist and provocateur VALIE EXPORT. In partnership with the Austrian Cultural Forum London, we bring together nearly five decades of works, divided into six distinct programmes that include her early short films and videos, performances, feature length fiction films and documentaries. This season presents a cross section of an enormously diverse, frequently controversial oeuvre, and highlights EXPORT’s commitment to producing challenging, theoretically engaged polemics throughout her technologically groundbreaking practice.

Initially being met with a great deal of hostility, VALIE EXPORT is now considered one of the most important and influential artists to combine multimedia works and theory with a feminist approach. In 1967 she programmatically chose a pseudonym to symbolically distance herself from the identity and role assigned to her as a female artist working in a male-dominated world – augmenting and adapting contemporaneous ideas of Actionism with her own feminist ideologies.

This often-violent preoccupation with the body and its portrayal through images sees EXPORT presenting herself in the dual role of female object and sensuous subject of an electronically and socially determined gaze. However, the films and videos in this retrospective also highlight an extraordinarily expansive critical engagement with socio-political ideas, including: masculine and feminine social roles, the family unit, manifestations of power within public and private spaces; and more structural concerns with technology, time and space.

Programme 1: Adjunct Dislocations

"These short films represent a cross section of VALIE EXPORT’s films and videos: Sober desire; a self-portrait undergoing conscious transformation and exclusion from society; criticism of media commentary and its unconscious consumers; dependence on the family and its confining nature for children; the structural interest in time and space and the moving image’s potential for shifting and expanding perception; the statement on the world’s condition, made in this case in a shrill comedy; documentary material combined with the serial in an investigation of the city and private spaces; and finally (…), Syntagma, which combines EXPORT’s inimitable variety of filmic and videographic techniques with her feminist and actionist content.” – Brigitta Burger-Utzer
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Interrupted Line, 1971-72, 9 min, B/W, 16mm
Adjunct Dislocations
, 1973, 10 min, B/W, Beta SP
, 1983, 18 min, Colour 16mm
Self-Portrait with Head
, 1966-67, 1 min, B/W, DigiBeta
Facing a Family
, 1971, 5 min, B/W, Beta SP
Ein perfektes Paar oder die Unzucht wechselt ihre Haut
, 1986, 12 min, Colour, Beta SP
I Turn Over the Pictures of My Voice in My Head
, 2009,12 min, Colour, Beta SP

Programme 2: The Practice of Love

The Practice of Love
1984 | 90 min | Colour | 35mm

"The Practice of Love could be termed a feminist thriller about a woman investigator who uncovers a murder conspiracy, and who is in the end thwarted by a combination of government and private power. The film could also be comprehended as an essay about the impossibility of freeing oneself from the tangle of electronically and socially determined gazes and the insufficiency of language in general. Seeing it as a comedy about perception would also be possible, or even a lesson about the construction of time and space in film images. But all these possibilities (like in a "good" mainstream film) do not add up to a mythical whole with a clear separation of text and subtext, plot and subplot; it maintains its contradictory and fragmentary nature, clearly showing the "experimental" as a space where experience is possible." – Georg Seeßlen
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Programme 3: Performance Films I

VALIE EXPORT’s performances straddle the boundary between physical actions and expansive multimedia practices, consisting of her literary texts and/or theoretical, structural, sociopolitical and visual ideas.

"If even pathological forces such as self-hatred; low self-esteem; identification with suffering, submissiveness or even the oppressor are read into such actions, these moments of truth in the history of women are so true that many women would rather not even scratch the surface too deeply. Many women prefer the superficial gleam of trivial glamour to the sovereignty resulting from pain which has been carried to term, and to the painful power of resistance." – VALIE EXPORT read more

...Remote...Remote...,1973, 10 min, Colour, 16mm
Asemie – or The Inability to Express Oneself Through Facial Expressions
, 1973, 7 min, B/W, DigiBeta
Space-Seeing – Space-Hearing
, 1973-74, 6 min, B/W, Beta SP
Body Politics
, 1974, 3 min, B/W, Beta SP
Delta. A Performance
, 1976-77, 18 min, B/W, Beta SP
, 1966-80, 8 min, B/W, DigiBeta

Programme 4: Human Females

1979 | 124 min | Colour | 16mm

"Menschenfrauen portrays journalist Franz S.’s relationships with four different women he alternates between according to a precise schedule. But the women start to see through this game which only Franz can win and escape in one way or another. (…) The story’s linearity is repeatedly punctuated by flashbacks that provide information about the characters’ pasts, dream sequences in which the psychological deformations are expressed, and artificial stagings of role behavior. In these sequences VALIE EXPORT performs the actions she developed before and parallel to her films." – Claudia Preschl
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Programme 5: Performance Films II

""The Body and Its Image in the Media" was art historian Annette Tietenberg’s title for a lecture about VALIE EXPORT which summed up the variety and influence of views of the body and the way it is represented. Even in her early films EXPORT presented herself as a female object of a wide range of codes and meanings based on social norms and constructs, though at the same time always as a sensuous subject that repeatedly "considered appropriate language for what she wanted to express."" – Brigitta Burger-Utzer
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TAPP und TASTKINO, 1968, 2 min, B/W, Beta SP
Body Tape
, 1970, 4 min, B/W, Beta SP
Breath Text: Love Poem
, 1970-73, 2 min, B/W, Beta SP
, 1973, 7 min, B/W, DigiBeta
Visual Text: Finger Poem
, 1973, 2 min, B/W, Beta SP
The Duality of Nature
, 1986, 2 min, Colour, Beta SP
Elfriede Jelinek. News from Home 18.8.88
, 1988, 30 min, Colour, Beta SP
, 1997, 3 min, B/W & Colour, VHS
Mann & Frau & Animal
, 1970-73, 8 min, B/W & Colour, 16mm

Programme 6: Invisible Adversaries

Invisible Adversaries
VALIE EXPORT, Peter Weibel
1976 | 108 min | Colour | 16mm

"Anna, a photographer and video reporter in Vienna, hears a radio report about an invasion of invisible aliens – the Hyksos – who intend to take over the Earth and its inhabitants. "But the aspects of VALIE EXPORT’s film that are of interest to us come not only from the theme of a schizophrenic young woman and her relationship with a paternalistic man, but also from the esthetic she developed simultaneously. The film does not submit esthetically to a clean division between a normal, objective surroundings and abnormal, schizophrenic distortion and projection. It neither filmically separates the projections and dreams from their environment in quasi-objectivity, nor does it lose itself to a depiction of the woman’s subjective point of view by pretending to assume it for the purpose of telling the story. On the contrary, the film takes its esthetic from the very fact that it includes the various levels."" – Gertrud Koch
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Please note: all of the films and videos in this programme are presented on their original exhibition formats – therefore due to the age of some of these, the black and white video works in particular are of a degraded quality.

This programme is kindly supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum and sixpackfilm: