Invisible Adversaries

A couple of weeks ago, I checked out VALIE EXPORT’s 1976 experimental film Unsichtbare Gegner (Invisible Adversaries). It was presented at NYU by Hari Kunzru.

A crazy tale of an alien invasion of everday residents of 1970s Vienna, Austria:

Invisible Adversaries film still

You can watch the film here.

The city stars in this film, in which the increasing paranoia of the human protagonist is matched by the harshness of personal interactions between the Viennese. While no “aliens” are ever seen–no little green men running around–strange occurences and affects seep into the spaces between people. Especially into the spaces between each person and her image, her reflections, her representations.

The doubles and shadows no longer walk in lock step with their originals. They have lives, affects, of their own.

VALIE EXPORT was working in a repressive, neo-fascist Vienna, in which the unwillingness to acknowledge the horrors of Nazism tainted all aspects of public life. The evidence of alien takeover is in the schizophrenia of images and visual representations. The protagonist herself is obsessed with images: she takes photographs, makes videos. The obsessiveness of her actions distinguishes her from “the others.” It is her image-making that helps her keep track of the alien takeover of urban life.

Today, we incessantly create doubles, triples, quadruples of ourselves, multiplying out across Facebook and Flickr; Twittering nonstop. What does our image-making, or creation of archives of our selves, our lives and our cities tell us about the way we live in our cities today? What anxieties are we tracking?


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