Waltraud Lehner was born in Linz, Austria in 1940. From 1956 to 1959 she attended the School of Applied Arts in Linz. She then graduated from the Höhere Bundeslehr- und Versuchsanstalt für Textilindustrie, Vienna, from 1960 to 1964. In 1967 she created the name VALIE EXPORT as an artistic concept, new identity and brand. The artist was co-founder of the Austrian Filmmakers Cooperative in 1967 and participated in many international exhibitions, including Documenta 6 in 1977, as well as the Biennale di Venezia in 1978 and represented Austria (together with Maria Lassnig) at the Biennale di Venezia in the Austrian Pavilion in 1980. VALIE EXPORT taught at numerous institutions such as the Art Institute in San Francisco, the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA and the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin. From 1995/96 to 2005 VALIE EXPORT was professor for multimedia performance at the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne. In 1995 the artist received the Generali Foundation Sculpture Prize and in 2000 the Oskar Kokoschka Prize. In 2022 she was awarded the Max Beckmann Prize. In 2009 VALIE EXPORT was co-commissioner of the Austria Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In 2022 she was awarded the Max Beckmann Prize and was honored with the Grand Decoration of Honor in Silver with Star for services to the Republic of Austria. In 2015, the city of Linz acquired her estate, including her archive, and in 2017 opened the VALIE EXPORT CENTER LINZ at the Tabakfabrik Linz. VALIE EXPORT lives and works in Vienna.
In the "Expanded cinema" works, EXPORT developed her performative approach in a radical, actionist way. Being the actor herself, she experimented with the limits of cinema in drastic ways. In her cinematic actions she broke the usual passive reception characteristic of the medium. "Ping Pong" (1968) was awarded a prize as the most political film shown at the second Maraisiade in Vienna. At the award presentation, EXPORT performed, for the first time, her body action "TAP AND TOUCH CINEMA" (1968) where she raised the issue of the female body being turned into an object in the media. EXPORT is a self-declared "media artist" and is a pioneer in this regard both in her cinematic and video work. In a series entitled "Body Configuration Series" (1972- 82), she approached the issue of the relationship between a constructed body language and the surrounding urban space. She has continued her taboo-breaking, socially critical work since the late 1980s, in her involvement with digital technologies. As a focal point, along with the "TAP and TOUCH CINEMA", the Generali Foundation collects VALIE EXPORT’s video works, and has also restored her early film installations and for the first time made these available again to the public in an exhibition of her cinematic work in 1996. (Monika Vykoukal)read more read less