Close Up

29 October 2016: 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  

Asemie – or the Inability to Express Oneself Through Facial Expressions
1973 | 7 min | B/W | DigiBeta  

"I had used my mouth to take the knife from the podium – holding it in my mouth, (the knife is language, the naming of things, its separates the subject from the object) using it to cut." – VALIE EXPORT  

"VALIE EXPORT chooses an active and direct confrontation. She develops aesthetic conceptual strategies for perception and analyses the role of women and women artists in society. This performance takes on the appearance of a ritual based on a theme – the incapacity and inability to express oneself through gestures, or to understand them. VALIE EXPORT stages symbolic elements such as a dead bird, hot wax, and a knife. Expression is impossible. The artist then acts, literally, with a knife to cut herself free, distancing herself from this corporal muteness. The conceptual aesthetic of VALIE EXPORT explores the power and scope of reality: the same reality that produces different realities.” – Lou Svahn

Space-Seeing – Space-Hearing
1973-74 | 6 min | B/W | Beta SP  

“The video of a motionless figure in a room correlates four different camera positions with four different synthesized tones. We see the artist and how she calmly faces the cameras head-on. Apparent motion originates through a splitting of the image executed technologically, already during recording. The stasis of the body in space is thus juxtaposed to the dynamic capacities of the technical apparatus.” – Patricia Grzonka

“Like in Split Reality, the personality conveyed by a medium in this performance tape appears to be schizophrenic. Two video cameras and a mixer make possible a closed-circuit action that demonstrates not only the differences in the way the viewers perceive a person who is physically present in the room and simultaneously electronically reproduced, but also how the image is manipulated by its electronic conveyance. The camera zooms in and out, subjecting the performer´s monitor likeness to permanent alteration. Specific synthetic sounds are linked to the picture: optically close = loud sound and rapid tone repetition, optically remote = quiet sound and slow tone repetition. The work is arranged in 6 parts: 1. space position, 2. split images, 3. space position composition, 4. split image composition, 5. body, 6. body composition” –

Body Politics
1974 | 3 min | B/W | Beta SP  

“The nature of communication between the sexes is predetermined in our society. The politics of behavior that our society imposes upon men and woman can be demonstrated in physical form. The escalator, consisting of stairs moving downward, demonstrates the existing communication systems in five separate phases. A man and a woman are connected by a rope tied around their bodies”. – VALIE EXPORT  

Delta. A Performance
1976-77 | 18 min | B/W | Beta SP  

“The bond between the shoulders is replaced by a binding attached to the hand. I write the following with a severely restricted hand: The power of the powerless is silence. At the tip of the triangular plane, which is repeatedly struck by a fist in a cast - as a form of expression, to make an utterance, to find one´s own sound. (...) The triangle becomes a hatchet. With the hatchet in hand, the field of action is destroyed, as the power of women lies not in the tiresome representation of how easy they are to please, on the way from Virgin Mary to lawfully wedded wife, we have found detours from married life, diversions that create a final gulf/cut between the trade-offs between body and mind.” – VALIE EXPORT

1966-80 | 8 min | B/W | DigiBeta

Poems, written and performed by VALIE EXPORT

1973 | 10 min | Colour | 16mm  

“Human behaviour in contrast to machines (animals) is influenced by events in the past, as far back as these experiences may lie. Therefore there exists a psychic paratime parallel to the objective time, where the prayers of anguish and guilt, the inability to win, deformations which rip open the skin, becoming aware of oneself, have their constant effects. I demonstrate something which represents past and present.” – VALIE EXPORT  

....Remote.....Remote..... is not, as was said, a film about suffering. The actress (the artist) does not suffer. Or does not show. It’s a film about the wound. For the woman mutilates herself, the essence lies in the result: blood. These repeated mutilations cause her to bleed continuously, which she staunches by sucking her reddened fingers. But as the blood continues to flow, she ends up plunging it in a bowl of milk. Red and white. These are the very fluids of femaleness: lactescence (maternal) and menstruation (sexual). But these barbaric weddings are more than a mixture: a metamorphosis. VALIE EXPORT turns milk into blood. And the body into tragedy.” – Régis Michel

Part of our season on VALIE EXPORT