Valie Export Deconstruction

Deconstruction of VALIE EXPORT’s “Touch and Tap TV”

Rapid Pulse, Chicago, IL, 2014.

Solyanka Gallery, Moscow, 2013

This work is a reenactment of the classic performance by VALIE EXPORT “Touch and Tap Cinema”1968 but with NO breast. The artist constructed a small theater-like box with a curtain and put it on her chest. The people on the street – men, women, and children – were invited by another artist, to touch her in the box, behind the curtain.

What makes my piece different is not only the obvious shift of socio-political context and cultural environment, but also my specific anatomy – I don’t have a breast. It had been removed surgically because I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Women who have double mastectomy like me have a very big chance of survival. They live long lives, because the cancer has been removed and it is no more part of the body as it could have been if found in some internal organs. However, women like me experience great depression mostly because of the superficial and stereotypical understanding of femininity and sexualized female images related to the presence of a breast.

In my performance, the audience is offered to experience the reality of this medical necessity in a mediated manner. The audience hands are hidden behind a curtain. The experience is more touching than seeing. Protected by this mediation, people can “touch and tap” the problems, women and not only women with different bodies experience internally and socially.