The performance Panic: Perverted is a reenactment of Valie Export’s Aktionshose: Genitalpanik. It took place for the first time at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in June 2007.
Expanded Cinema: In 1969 Valie Export enlarged the parameters of cinema with her body. She appeared in trousers that displayed her genitals in a cinema in Munich to show that the division between the stage/screen and the audience is not only a question of media but also a question of gender. As a feminist, Valie Export placed herself in opposition to men in order to establish a different point of view than that of the male viewer and female object. Today, engagement as the common subject “woman” has become difficult for many reasons. We see ourselves faced with the end of identity politics where being a woman is not enough. Global neoliberal capitalism has made phallocentrism its highest order. Raised to an abstract level, the power of the ONE (phallus) is reducing every antagonism to a set of differences that can be evacuated, controlled and normalized. The question is how to act in a world of abstraction and empty signs, how to find a position in a state of exception, where one is continuously watched and supervised.
Like Valie Export, I choose to include my own body in a media installation that provokes self-reflection. The audience is projected on to a square between my legs and is confronted with its own involvement within the closed circle of power. Who is allowed to watch and who is supposed to be under surveillance? If strategies of feminism have to be articulated for the present (and this is my intent) then it is necessary to put them into a broader setting of politics and histories. That means that Panic: perverted cannot remain a silent reconstruction of what happened 40 years ago. We have to ask even bigger questions like: who is allowed to speak and take the position of an active subject?
It is not by chance that the space for projection between my legs is a square. This square is a perversion of what was already between Tanja Ostojic’s legs as she quoted Malewitsch’s Black square on white. The abstract square made from the cut out of my pants becomes reality through my skin and shaved genitals. Eastern European art comes in to play to show that all questions that we raise about media and body are situated in a real space. In this space, different (non) subjectivities are constantly produced and controlled by the neoliberal capitalist system. In this space migration has come to a point where it can no longer be made invisible by political nation states. Migration is real and needs to be articulated.
As a child of migration who came from Ex-Yugoslavia and was supposed to remain silent and have no voice, I want to talk about exactly this history of difference. I want to put this story of difference in the middle of the western European feminist art work of Valie Export. As a queer subject, I am not situated in the binaries of male/female. Being queer means being a thief not only of the phallus but of everything that includes having the phallus: power, property, bodies, etc. I am stealing Valie Export’s work to use it for myself and articulate my own migration history that is situated within the dominant Austrian culture.