Madeleine Freund

PhD Candidate

Dissertation Project: VALIE EXPORT’s Body Politics 

The video Body Politics (1974) exemplifies central aspects and themes underlying VALIE EXPORT's artistic approach and work: the body as a medium, the critical examination of social systems, their operating modes through communication and acting subjects, their power structures and the medial interdependence of images, video sequences and language.
This PhD aims to comprehensively introduce and analyze the term body politics in VALIE EXPORT's work as well as it’s iconography. What is the significance of body politics in VALIE EXPORT’s work and how does it manifest itself?
In this context, the meaning of the body as medium, inherent political issues, the term body politics and the politicization of bodies are categorized on the basis of post-structuralist and feminist theories, the discussion of related art historical positions and interviews with relevant voices in the contemporary art scene. The interviews serve as a current day panorama of the term itself, as well as the visualization of body politics in performance and media art since the 1960s with an emphasis on EXPORT's works between 1968 to 1990. Subsequently, the multivalent application and expression of language in EXPORT's work is systematically analyzed on the basis of its content and structure. It is assumed that the body as medium has always had a certain political dimension: whether and to what extent EXPORT takes on political language shall be regarded as a complementary aspect of this analysis.
Based on the need for a definition of body politics in contemporary art, manifestations of the body are examined and at the same time power relations and forms of representation are disclosed with exemplary works by EXPORT, with the ultimate goal to prove that the body as a medium in art is and has always been political.



Madeleine Freund holds a master’s degree in art history and philosophy from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and Venice International University in 2014. Next to her current PhD she works as a curator and editor, writes for the online magazine and has over five years of experience in international exhibition productions and public relations. In previous roles, she worked as Curatorial Assistant and Press Officer at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, as well as Exhibitions and Education Trainee at Espace Louis Vuitton München/ Louis Vuitton Germany.