VALIE EXPORT. Research – Archive – Oeuvre

10/06 – 12/08/2018
Curator Sabine Folie
Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin

From the beginning of her artistic activity in the late 1960s, VALIE EXPORT has been addressing shifts in context and variations of bodies and subjects in “civilising processes”. They are also present in the artist's processes of image creation and her studies. The focus of the exhibition at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein is on “context variations” and “changes of state” that result from the process of artistic research and ultimately lead to a piece of art. Sketches, drafts, models, concepts, and notions that are all part of VALIE EXPORT's premature legacy are put into context with their respective works.

The bodies of works presented at the n.b.k. stem from five decades and illustrate the diversity of subjects in VALIE EXPORT's oeuvre. They range from dealing with thinking and acting in dichotomies like culture / nature, language / body or masculine / feminine to situating the human and above all female subject in the world – within a (constructed) social body that finds its materialisation in architectures, technologies and media.

VALIE EXPORT is considered one of the most important artists working in the fields of conceptual media art, performance art and film. She continues to have an ongoing influence on generations of up-and-coming artists with her feminist and media-critical works. Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) is presenting VALIE EXPORT in a first representative exhibition of works and archival materials at a German institution in 15 years.

From the beginning of her career, EXPORT has been addressing the issues of an increasingly mediatized society and questioning its functions, guiding principles and mechanisms of communication. In 1968, the year when the women’s rights movement and student protests substantially challenged the bourgeois society, EXPORT directed people’s gaze onto the female body – and the social inscriptions it carries – in works such as Tapp- und Tastkino or Aktionshose Genitalpanik. But also beyond these now canonical works, EXPORT created a media-reflexive and political oeuvre in the 1980s and 1990s that directs attention to the tension between the individual and society. In the process, the artist simultaneously explored the limits of what can be seen and said, and created connections across media boundaries between seemingly disparate research areas.

The work complexes presented at the n.b.k. stem from five decades and illustrate the diversity of subjects in VALIE EXPORT’s oeuvre. They range from dealing with 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 it materialization, among other things, in the built city. How architecture, technologies and media (de)form people is 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 as well as those works that focus on the writing subject that constitutes itself in script. In photographs, films and installations from the 1980s and 1990s the artist has been exploring a self that has been fragmented and alienated in the digital age. By creating allegorical images new perspectives are explored, analyzed and exhausted. The exhibition provides insight into VALIE EXPORT’s working process, looks at her practice of questioning space, the body and media, and underlines the research quality of the artistic process.

Together with the artist, the curator Sabine Folie developed an exhibition that—after its first presentation at the Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz in 2017—will now be shown in an expanded form under the title VALIE EXPORT. Research – Archive – Oeuvre at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein. Here, the exhibition includes important works by the artist that in a unique way document EXPORT’s creative process and combines them with archival material such as sketches, letters, photos and notes. The archival material comes from the artist‘s pre-mortem bequest, which is being researched under the direction of Sabine Folie at the VALIE EXPORT Center Linz since November 2017 and is accessible there to an interested public.