Valie Export Quotes

I was trying to develop a completely new, nonvoyeuristic approach to the female body as something other than a visual object. I wanted to find out what happened when you leave behind the voyeuristic mode and confront people with reality. But that’s what was so interesting for me to discover: People don’t want to see reality. It’s a pretty simple idea, really, this question of how we deal with reality. When something is constructed, when it’s projected onto a screen, it’s acceptable, but it’s different when it’s there in front of you in a public space.

Whenever we think of the body as a vessel for artistic ideas, we somehow always focus on the surface of the body. But the truth is that there is no surface of the body independent of its interior. It’s obvious that the outside of the body is always connected to the inside, to thought processes and to an internal anatomy.

The female body has always been a construction. Even feminist art of the 1970s fashioned a body in accordance with its own ideas, and in this regard it was a form of manipulation too. Subsequently, we’ve had to engage with a lot of things that we used to disavow as manipulation. We can’t just dismiss everything as manipulations anymore, since the alternatives are constructions, too. From our perspective, from this corner of the planet, we have to admit that it’s all constructed. There is absolutely no nature. Nature is one of the biggest constructions.

Much of the art of the 1960s, from body art to video and direct performance, was concerned with similar issues. And then there was media art, which made it possible to express things directly, without having to rely on the written word, which was manipulated by men.

My interest in time emerged out of an engagement with the media that I was working with. Film and performance are temporal media. They rely on time. When I’m carrying out a performance, it matters, for example, how long I hold one particular gesture or posture. Seriality is very important too. Performance can be used to dilate time or to repeat time. And video, in turn, has its own time.