From very human to posthuman motherhoods: A reflection triggered by VALIE EXPORT’s Menschenfrauen


Graziele Lautenschlaeger


The biological, culturally constructed operationalities related to female bodies turn mothering into an ambivalent issue. Although VALIE EXPORT (*1940) has never been a main reference for mothering issues in art, there is more motherhood in her artworks than meets the eye. This paper analyses the maternal contingencies within her film Menschenfrauen (1979), in which the social and psychic states of four female characters are revealed through the extraordinary use of cinematographic strategies. The film addresses the overlapping burdens of female bodies engaged in human reproduction in a patriarchal society. To unfold the complexity of subjects intertwined in our object of study, a systemic analysis is conducted relating VALIE EXPORT ́s artistic statement with posthumanist thinking. Enriching the discussion with external examples, the paper invites readers to consider how contemporary art proposals contribute to reshaping the notion of motherhood.



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