Human behaviour in contrast to machines (animals) is influenced by events in the past, as far back as these experiences may lie. Therefore there exists a psychic paratime parallel to the objective time, where the prayers of anguish and guilt, the inability to win, deformations which rip open the skin, becoming aware of oneself, have their constant effects. I demonstrate something which represents past and present.
....Remote....Remote.... was one of the films categorized by a considerable number of women as typifying despicable excesses and extreme violence. People frequently reacted to the film with horror, incomprehension and scorn. In showing emotion, gentleness and sensitivity as female qualities, there was no place for aggression - cutting and violently opening were equated with male behaviour; having to pentrate in order to possess.
When Valie Export shaves and trims herself, the sight of her provokes fantasies, revolving around acts done to the body. Yet there is nothing dreadful about a woman trimming her body, especially in the places where she enhances the glamour imposed on her body by the civilizing influences of the world around her. And the fact that you have to suffer to achieve beauty has always brought a knowing smile to a woman´s lips.
The way in which Valie Export grooms herself however, involves unconventional touching and violation which goes beyond the familiar sight of a woman "harmlessly" doing herself up. This triggered, and continues to trigger, huge defensive reactions among many women. Such a reaction represents the easiest way of emphatically rejecting something that has got right under the skin. No-one is allowed to encroach into the recesses of our private existence, in which the damage suffered and our own self-mutilation remains safeguarded behind a front of normality.
....Remote.....Remote..... is not, as was said, a film about suffering. The actress (the artist) does not suffer. Or does not show. It’s a film about the wound. For the woman mutilates herself, the essence lies in the result: blood. These repeated mutilations cause her to bleed continuously, which she staunches by sucking her reddened fingers. But as the blood continues to flow, she ends up plunging it in a bowl of milk. Red and white. These are the very fluids of femaleness: lactescence (maternal) and menstruation (sexual). But these barbaric weddings are more than a mixture: a metamorphosis. VALIE EXPORT turns milk into blood. And the body into tragedy.
english print version