VALIE EXPORT (Austria) was born Waltraud Lehner in Linz. In 1967 she changed her name to reflect a self-fashioned identity, inspired by the branding on a pack of Smart Export cigarettes. “I did not want to have the name of my father any longer, nor that of my former husband Hollinger.” EXPORT studied at a convent and Vienna’s National School for Textile Industry (1955–1958). Beginning in the mid-1960s she began developing one of the most significant bodies of feminist art of the postwar period, also questioning some of the overt misogynistic tendencies of the Vienna Actionists. EXPORT has completed more than 100 films, videos, and performances since 1966, with solo screenings and exhibitions at numerous international institutions, including Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels), Metropolitan Museum (New York), Shanghai Art Museum, MUMOK (Vienna), Centre George Pompidou (Paris), MoMA (New York), Tate Modern (London), and the National Centre for Contemporary Art (Moscow). She was the subject of a dual film retrospective with Carolee Schneemann at Media City Film Festival in 2018. Export is the recipient of the Oskar Kokoschka Prize (2000), Austrian Decoration for Science and Art (2005), the Grand Gold Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria (2010), and the Roswitha Haftmann Prize (2019), among many other awards and accolades. In 2016 the city of Linz opened a new research centre devoted exclusively to her life’s work. EXPORT lives between Vienna, Austria and Cologne, Germany.


ONLINE SCREENING DATES: May 20 – June 10, 2021 

FILMS IN THIS PROGRAM: Visual Text: Finger Poem, 2 min, 1973; Syntagma, 18 min, 1984

Visual Text: Finger Poem, 2 min, 1973

The body as carrier of information, in order to convey both spiritual and physical contents, is the reflected image of the internal/psychological and of the external/institutional reality. – VALIE EXPORT

Syntagma, 18 min, 1984

The striking insistence in Syntagma on the fragmented body of the woman, mute for the most part, has a twofold and seemingly contradictory impact. Fragmentation first appears to be the repetition of a trauma, until finally its frenetic pace turns into deliberate composition. In the traumatic sense, fragmentation reflects the epitome of objectification, an itemization of the goods: arms, legs, shoulders, breasts, faces, the depersonalized review of the chattel’s grade. The point is that while women may be objectified, they do not necessarily become objects. – Roswitha Müller


Ocula: The film Poems (1966–1980) includes a poem written in two stanzas. The first series of lines denote things you did and the structures to which they belong—for example, “I was born at the hospital which belongs to the city of Linz” and “I suckled the breast which belongs to my mother”—while the second stanza consists of bodily actions that belong to you, such as “I screamed the voice that belongs to me.” Both stanzas end with, “That’s the life that belongs to me.” How does this work sit within your practice?

VALIE EXPORT: This poem is connected to my artistic practice and to the rules of society—for instance, “I was afraid of the bombs that belonged to the state of England,” or, “I cried for my father, whose death belonged to the fatherland.” These are rules that one wants to fight, break, and rise up against. All the while, the voice belongs to me. Much later, in 2007, I gave a performance at the Venice Biennale, where I showed the voice as a body, titled The voice as performance, act and body.

Read VALIE EXPORT’s full interview with Ocula here. All stills, photographs, and artwork courtesy ©VALIE EXPORT and Sixpack Film. Screening co-presented with Sixpack Film.