Dissertation Project: VALIE EXPORT’s Body Configurations.
A political anatomy of body and architecture
Body and knowledge form a complicit alliance in the invisible history of power mechanisms. Architecture is both a symbolic vehicle for this alliance and an expression of societal structure and order. It is the city's framework for action, it functions as a political instrument, and, as a cognizant force, inevitably exerts its influence on people. The body thus becomes a site of political discourse.
The photo series Body Configurations (1972–1982) documents VALIE EXPORT's artistic investigation into mechanisms of power that occupy the body within the context of the physical and the psychological. Based on the artist's pictorial and feminist-actionist considerations that relate to the visualization of inner states, she examines the (female) body as a site of inwardness and space for the construction of history. These processes are visualized by adopting specific postures, which for socio-historical reasons are stored in archives inherent to the body. In serial fashion with her Body Configurations, VALIE EXPORT retrieves gestures and behaviors that imply a shift in the perception of body-political realities and actualities. The body is repositioned in relation to the architecture, exposing cultural and historical manifestations within society and questioning (gender) identities, inscriptions and coding.
The dissertation project will be the first to extensively explore Body Configurations in the context of VALIE EXPORT's overall body of works. Taking into account the artist's text material and using poststructuralist as well as contemporary approaches to body politics, the structures of body and architecture in Body Configurations will undergo a series of theoretical dissections aimed at tracing the manifestations of power mechanisms in both entities.
Anna Fliri is a Senior Scientist at the University of Art and Design Linz for the VALIE EXPORT Center - Research Center for Media and Performance Art, as well as the founder of the independent art room Space Nouvelle and curator for Kunst am Bau at the NHT. Previously she was curatorial assistant to Prof. Peter Weiermair and the Taxispalais Kunsthalle Tirol. Her research focuses on contemporary art, documentary art practices, and curatorial studies. She is currently researching her dissertation project on VALIE EXPORT at the University of Innsbruck. Her texts have been published in various exhibition catalogs and magazines.