Photo : Verkreuzung, 1972, courtesy of Galerie Thaddeus Ropac
Ever since her early self-portraits in the 1950s, Austrian feminist artist Valie Export has emerged as a pioneer in her field. In 1967, she started signing her works under the name of VALIE EXPORT. Through a film series called Expanded Cinema Works, she offers a radical approach to the role of women in film history. Also starring as the main character of the series, she shatters the limits of film and lays to rest the passive attitude demanded of actresses. In her famous action, Tap and Touch Cinema (1968), she deconstructs the big screen cliché of representing the female body exclusively as an object. Her series Body Configurations (1972-82) evokes the relationship between body language and urban environment, while interrogating the place of women in public space. Is this a space of freedom or alienation for women? For the first time in Paris, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac is devoting a solo retrospective to the artist and presenting some of her fundamental works. Of the exhibition, curator Caroline Bourgeois has stated: « I like to think of curating as a viral activity, which means offering events that are not imposing but instead enable a kind of openness, and so disturbance. I think art disturbs us and it is a fact we cannot avoid.” In this respect, Valie Export’s work is a disturbing element that transcends even the male/female dualism it questions in its broader interrogation of the abuse of power within our society. These are questions that have resurfaced today with all the force of a boomerang to the face…
Body Configurations at the Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, from January 12th to February 24th, 7 rue Debelleyme, 75003 Paris.
Written by Armelle Leturcq.