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VALIE EXPORT’s video "Body Politics" relates to the gendered patterns of behavior in public space. Her 1974 performance shows a man and a woman tied together by a long rope. They both stand on adjacent escalators, one running down and the other up. Acting out different positions on the stairs, the man and the woman demonstrate five phases of the communication system that are specified by a corresponding series of German-language titles meaning “against each other,” “with each other,” “to each other,” “for each other,” and finally, “each other.” With these gestures—most of which required one of the individuals to walk against his or her escalator’s direction of travel—EXPORT evokes a balance between genders that—in 1970s Austria—could not claim to have progressed to the extent that it had in the US or in other parts of Europe. She relates to the anonymous and dull atmosphere in public, where all one ever saw was routine behavior, and tries to break up such typical everyday patterns with an ironic twist that positions counter-agents amidst the agents of an overarching social field.

W.S.
  • Artist: VALIE EXPORT
  • Original Title: Body Politics
  • Year: 1974
  • Material: video, b&w, sound
  • Dimensions: Duration: 2min, 16sec
  • Inventory no.: K450
  • Category: video
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