VALIE EXPORT: Unsichtbare Gegner at Cinemateket
16–27 November 2008
This programme is a part of the “Between the Images” project.
VALIE EXPORT’s feature film Unsichtbare Gegner (1976) is a production made for theatrical release; a science fiction film with similarities to Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and at the same time a strong and humoristic showdown pinpointing women’s alienation in society.
The main character in the film, the artist Anna, experiences an invasion of aliens, the Hyksos, who are aiming to control the world by invading people’s minds and taking over their identities. It is a clandestine invasion; humans are affected mainly by the fact that their personality is changed. Anna finds little understanding for her belief and she is diagnosed as being schizophrenic. Gradually her love-relation is breaking down and the presence of the Hyksos is manifested in an increasingly aggressive and absurd society, without anyone noticing. With her camera she tries to prove that the people around her is nothing more than doppelgangers.
In Unsichtbare Gegner VALIE EXPORT uses an experimental imagery, mixing still and moving images, black-and-white with colour. In a mode characteristic for her oeuvre she uses reflections and elements like collages and disruptive camera angles. The narrative is built as an interplay between long takes and violently edited montages. Anna’s shattered experience of reality is expressed through the political and feministic topic, as well as through the artistic strategy.
The film’s protagonist can partly be seen as a self-portrait as Anna’s artistic works, which play an important part in the film, are VALIE EXPORT’s own. Several image elements from Unsichtbare Gegner can also be found in VALIE EXPORT’s other works, for instance in Körperkonfiguration (Body Configuration), a series of conceptual photography from 1982, and in the film Syntagma from 1984, both included in the current show at Index. VALIE EXPORT very early on recycled images and sequences from her own production into new works, an artistic strategy that questions the traditional idea of the image’s authenticity.
The screening includes two of VALIE EXPORT’s most well known experimental short films: Mann & Frau & Animal (1970-73) and Remote…Remote… (1973).