Aus der Serie "Körperkonfigurationen"

© Generali Foundation Collection—Permanent Loan to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg / VALIE EXPORT / Bildrecht, Wien, Photo: Hermann J. Hendrich


Starre Identität, 1972

"Körperkonfiguration", "Fotografik"

Black-and-white photograph, vintage print, India ink 41.8 x 60.9 cm, framed 56 x 79 cm Actress: VALIE EXPORT Edition 2/3


Artwork text

Since 1972 I have been involved in drawing, photography, film and happenings based on the representation of body positions as expressions of internal states, represented in nature as well as in architecture, such as adjustment, insertion and addition to the environment. The parallelism of landscape and mind, architecture and mind is mediated by the body, on the one hand because this parallelism has its origin in that extreme confrontation between body and mind, and on the other hand because the body is coined as a landscape. The landscape is coined by space and time, e.g. under closer scrutiny, the arrangement of its parts as there are trees, stone, hill etc. are such a coining. The arrangement of the members of the body are the body positions, they are coinings or expressions of internal states; those analogies between scenic and bodily dispositions, those common forms of coinings are used as a projection screen for expression since the beginning of the pictorial art: external configurations in the landscape, or in the picture (which becomes a landscape in this way) as expressions of internal states. Therefore landscape is just as much linked to a subject in painting (and in filming) as the body. For this reason one talks of “scenic moods”. The landscape represents one mood in the same way as a body position expresses a mood. The expression of emotions is not only a facial phenomenon. A state of the mind, firstly, can be expressed by the configuration of scenic parts, secondly by the configuration of body members and thirdly, -- and this is the innovation of my work -- by body members in the landscape. On a second level the expression manifested by certain body positions is analysed in its historic coining. In the paintings of the past an archive of body positions has settled down unnoticed, which are of the greatest expressive and informative value for the analysis of the conditions of sentiment and mythology in a given time. It can be stated that these frozen body positions represent a canon, a doctrine. When I imitate those old body positions I try to operate the expression out of it, to make it autonomous; when I equip the body positions with modern materials I try to expose this expression (critical investigation). At the moment I am dealing mainly with female positions based on a feministic point of view, and using material taken from a female circuit, in order to easen the regulations of female body gesticulation, body language and the related functions of the female body in our culture. (VALIE EXPORT)

Lending history
1998 Los Angeles, CA, USA, MOCA, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA 1998 Vienna, AT, Museum dür Angewandte Kunst (MAK)