Injuries I, 1972, The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna – The ESSL Collection © VALIE EXPORT, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023; Photo: Hermann Hendrich
Valie Export. A Retrospective
Jan 27 – May 21, 2024
Berlin, Germany

This exhibition recognizes the complex oeuvre of Valie Export (b. 1940), one of the twentieth century’s most influential media and performance artists in the world, who intrepidly challenged social norms and role models with her media-reflective practice and critical feminist perspective. Presenting works created between 1966 and 2009, the exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of Valie Export’s career. A filmmaker, performance artist, and media artist who is now celebrated as an icon of feminist art, Export caused a sensation with her actions in public space in the late 1960s. The retrospective covers a wide range of works from her provocative “expanded cinema” actions, symbolic performances, and analytical conceptual photography to multimedia installations and urban interventions. The works reflect the multifaced development of an artist whose works are still topical and serve as important points of reference for sociopolitical investigations today.

The exhibition presents many of Export’s pioneering works, including TAPP und TASTKINO (Touch Cinema, 1968), one of the early “expanded cinema” actions in which the artist strapped a box to her naked chest as a “movie theater” and invited passersby to touch her breasts for a precise length of time, challenging notions of the voyeuristic gaze on the female body. The legendary action Aus der Mappe der Hundigkeit (From the Portfolio of Doggedness, 1968) is also shown, in which Export walked through the center of Vienna with Peter Weibel, her partner at the time, on a leash like a dog to challenge traditional gender issues and analyze human behavior by means of animal comparisons.

Valie Export’s multidisciplinary oeuvre eludes attributions and classifications, transcending the limitations of media and genres. In addition to her own body, her work involves photography, drawings, videos, and installations. One focus of the exhibition is the relevance of photography in the artist’s work. Photography occupies a central position, regardless of whether it is treated as a means of documentation, as an experiment, or as an independent work. Export explicitly expresses her analysis of mass media and processes of illustration as feminist criticism to examine the role of women, their social marginalization, and the representation of the female body in a patriarchal society.

Valie Export. A Retrospective offers the first comprehensive solo presentation of the artist’s complex work to be held in an institutional context in many years. The exhibition is curated by guest curator Walter Moser (Albertina, Vienna) in collaboration with Boaz Levin (C/O Berlin Foundation). It was previously presented at the Albertina Museum in Vienna and at the Fotomuseum Winterthur. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog.

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