On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking exhibition Kunst Mit Eigen-Sinn: Aktuelle Kunst von Frauen [Art With Self-Determination: Contemporary Art by Women] (Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna, 1985), Richard Saltoun Gallery presents at Viennacontemporary the work of three leading Feminist artists active at this time: Renate Bertlmann (b. 1943 Vienna, Austria), VALIE EXPORT (b. 1940, Linz, Austria) and Jo Spence (b. 1934, London - d. 1992 London, UK).
These three artists have been integral to the re-positioning of the role and the perception of the 'female artist'. Their ground-breaking artistic output - at times personal, socio-political, and psychoanalytical - contributed to a larger discussion on gender and the representation of female bodies. Through the use of staged photography and performance they have each reinvented and challenged the traditional techniques of self-portraiture.
Special highlights include:
Renate BERTLMANN's Wurmer [Worms] (1973-74). In these early drawings and paintings, the artist reproduces worm-like creatures in different poses and actions: sliding on plane surfaces, penetrating round apertures, entangling with each others, embracing corners... Despite the formal minimalism and abstraction, the artist conveys through these phallic forms ambivalent feelings: desire and repulsion, tenderness and pain, anxiety and calm.
VALIE EXPORT's Aktionshose: Genitalpanik [Action Pants: Genital Panic] (1969). Arguably her most iconic work and performance, EXPORT marched into an art film house in Munich with crotchless trousers. The public left the theatre as the artist challenged them to look at a real woman, rather than an image on screen. The photograph was taken after this performance and distributed in poster format across the city.
Jo SPENCE's Remodelling Photo History (1979-82). Co-produced with Terry Dennett, this project criticised, by means of photographic re-appropriation and mise-en-scène, the documentary image and its supposed 'naturalism'. By re-staging scenes of crime, domestic work, illness, violence and cultural forms from a feminist point of view, the project explored the political and social implications of image-making.
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