VOX — Centre de l’image contemporaine

Exhibition View of _VALIE EXPORT Recherche – Archive – Œuvre_, 2019. Photo : Michel Brunelle.

Research – Archive – Œuvre

2019.02.15 - 04.27


In 1971, VALIE EXPORT worked on a cycle of photographs titled KONTEXT-VARIATIONEN: ZUSTANDSÄNDERUNGEN > BEDEUTUNGSVERÄNDERUNGEN (Zur Mythologie der Zivilisation) [Context Variations: Alterations of State > Alterations of Meaning (On the Mythology of Civilization)]. Addressing the concept of the work, she described the different stages of change of natural material (for example, stone) when subjected to diverse cultural techniques. Five photos were created that document a rock wall in the phases of being built, destroyed and then rebuilt into its original condition. They also show how the rocks and their depiction were exhibited on a public street, in the concrete urban wasteland. In 1972, EXPORT combined all these images with other studies in a portfolio on the subject of cultural and ritual inscriptions into the body. In the process, she referenced incision in initiation rites as researched by the anthropologist Gregory Bateson; EXPORT cited him with an illustration from his book Naven: A Survey of the Problems Suggested by a Composite Picture of the Culture of a New Guinea Tribe Drawn from Three Points of View, while also exploring modern tattoos and their meanings.

This exhibition is dedicated to “context variations” and transformations that result from the process of artistic research and end up leading to a work of art. Sketches, designs, models, concepts, and thoughts that belong to the artist’s archive are put in relation to her works. Since the beginning of her artistic activity in the late 1960s, VALIE EXPORT has been devoted to the contextual shifts and variations of bodies and subjects in “processes of civilization.” They can also be detected in the processes of creating images and in the artist’s studies.

The work complexes presented at VOX, which have different orientations and stem from five decades, illustrate the diversity of subjects in VALIE EXPORT’s œuvre. They range from addressing society’s thinking and acting in dichotomies like culture/nature or masculine/feminine to locating the human and above all female subject in the world—within a (constructed) social body that finds its materialization, among other things, in the built city. The ways in which technologies and media (de)form people are the central focus of research in this process. As a result, archival materials and works from the work complex of research on culture and nature from the 1970s are shown, along with works focusing on the writing subject that constitutes itself in script. In photographs and films from the 1980s and 1990s, the artist has explored a self that has been fragmented and alienated in the digital age. Through creation of allegorical images, new possibilities are explored, analyzed and exhausted. The script for Der virtuelle Körper. Vom Prothesen- zum postbiologischen Körper [The Virtual Body: From the Prosthetic to the Postbiological Body, 1999], which was never realized, marks just one of many striking moments within this subject of discovery.

An exhibition of the VALIE EXPORT Center Linz. Research Center for Media and Performance Art and the LENTOS Kunstmuseum Linz (Austria), in cooperation with the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k., Germany) and with the kind collaboration of the Atelier VALIE EXPORT. All archival material presented belongs to the VALIE EXPORT Center Linz, inaugurated in November 2017, on which occasion this project was conceived. This exhibition is made possible in part by the financial support of the Federal Chancellery of Austria and the Cultural Forum of the Embassy of Austria.

Publication available at VOX.