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VALIE EXPORT. Retrospektive

Category: Exhibition 4. July 2023

"Action Pants: Genital Panic": The VALIE EXPORT - Retrospective at the Albertina welcomes visitors right away with one of the most famous and controversial works of the Austrian artist. In the 1969 photograph, she carries a submachine gun and provocatively shows the viewer her exposed pubic area.

Originally, this provocative action took place in a Munich movie theater. Later, the artist distributed posters of it in public places.

From the "Action Pants" to the "Tapp and Touch Cinema," from the "Portfolio of Dogginess" to the "Body Configurations," VALIE EXPORT's oeuvre includes many iconic works, The 163 works in the show, curated by Walter Moser, span the period from 1968 to 2008, with photographic works from 1968 to 1998 being the main focus.

About a third come from the Albertina's own collection, the rest from the Studio Valie Export, managed by Galerie Ropac. This is the artist's first solo exhibition at the Albertina.

In 'Body Configurations' (from 1972) EXPORT used her body as a device, fitting her body into built structures, and failing to conform to architectural geometry. Titles such as 'Squeezing', 'Embracement', 'Customization' or 'Installation', emphasize the oppositions between built environment, social conditions and the individual.

The theme of pain, exemplified by the tattooed garter in "Body Sign Action" in 1970, was also part of her examination of the role of the female body in society, where its liberation is depicted as a painful process.

Since 1967, Waltraud Lehner, born in Linz in 1940, has used her artist name, which is also her concept, logo and patented trademark. After attending the Kunstgewerbeschule, she moved to Vienna and completed a textile school there.

Again and again Export adds media reflection to the feminist and actionist level by intertwining performance and photography. The female body is at the center, which Valie Export used as an artistic means in many works, inserting it into public space, exposing it to strangers, inflicting pain. In her film Remote Remote, Export tears open her cuticles with a knife. 

With a cardboard box in front of her chest and fellow artist Peter Weibel next to her, who uses a megaphone to call on passers-by to participate, she let them touch her breasts - Valie Export's 1968 performance "Tapp- und Tastkino" (tap and touch cinema) is now world famous.

Vaie Export shocked with her actions and fought as a young artist against the prevailing conventions; she was also often attacked and threatened.

Today she is one of the most important artists in Austrian art history.

The exhibition is still running at the Albertina until October 1, 2023.

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