Artwork Detail

Touch Cinema
Austrian, b. 1942
Black-and-white video with sound
1:8 min.
University purchase with funds from Samuel Kootz Gallery, by exchange, 2014
WU 2014.0004
© VALIE EXPORT / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VBK, Austria. Image courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.
Valie Export rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s as a pioneer of feminist art. In her early performance-based projects she employed her own body as a medium, expanding upon and countering the male-dominated group of artists known as the Vienna Actionists, whose taboo-breaking performance art dominated the Viennese art scene of the 1960s. Touch Cinema documents one of Export’s famous street performances, which took place from 1968 to 1971 in ten European cities. For these performances the artist built a tiny “movie theater” around her naked chest. She invited people to “visit the cinema” by touching her body inside the curtained box—a witty and provocative comment on the objectification of women’s bodies. Challenging the public to engage with a real woman instead of with images on a screen, she enacted with these performances her notion of “expanded cinema,” in which film is produced without celluloid and, instead, the artist’s body activates the live context of watching. [Permanent collection label, 2016]