VALIE EXPORT’s Facing a Family
In this exclusive two-week screening, watch the artist use our televisions to look back at us.
Dec 21, 2021
VALIE EXPORT’s Facing a Family screened here December 21, 2021–January 5, 2022. The video is no longer available for streaming. Join us for the next Hyundai Card Video Views screening, beginning January 12, 2022.
Austrian viewers tuning into their evening television program on February 28, 1971, found themselves faced with a surprising sight: a family, bathed in the light of a TV set, impassively looking back at them. VALIE EXPORT described her video, Facing a Family, as an “imaginary screen,” an “expanded movie,” and a “TV action” in which both families—one on screen, the other presumably at home—were participants. Commissioned by the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, EXPORT’s meditation on “television in the family; the family in television” tapped into cultural shifts around a medium that was drawing new lines between private and public imagery. That same year saw the filming of An American Family, a groundbreaking televised documentary that broadcast the daily life of Santa Barbara’s Loud family over the course of 12 episodes when it started airing on PBS in 1973.
In the 1960s, EXPORT approached the still-new medium of video to experiment with performance and gesture, making use of its immediacy and feedback. With Facing a Family, the artist shifted focus to study the social implications of mass communication. Calling attention to the very act of viewership, Facing a Family envisions a pre-Internet means of connecting to each other within the walls of one’s own home while presaging contemporary phenomena like online surveillance and reality television. At the same time, the work’s deadpan humor and delightful visual wit evoke a tradition of artistic interpretations of the nuclear family in the 1970s and after, as seen in the work of artists such as George Kuchar, Gillian Wearing, and Sondra Perry. Recently, I spoke with EXPORT via email about her groundbreaking video.
We wish you and yours a joyful holiday season. Join us in January for the next edition of Hyundai Card Video Views, as the series continues its consideration of how artists engage with the technologies that have become central to our daily lives.
–Sophie Cavoulacos, Associate Curator, Department of Film
VALIE EXPORT's Time and Countertime is now on view at MoMA.
Media and Performance at MoMA is made possible by Hyundai Card.
Major support is provided by the Jill and Peter Kraus Endowed Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions.
Generous funding is provided by the Lonti Ebers Endowment for Performance and the Sarah Arison Fund for Performance.
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