„The machismo here was vehement.“ Any of the artists could have made this statement: Renate Bertlmann, Linda Christanell, Lore Heuermann, Karin Mack, or Margot Pilz. What unites the women, who were all part of the Viennese art scene in the 1970s, is the memory of an era of humiliating paternalism. In She ist the other gaze, filmmaker Christiana Perschon lets these women, born between 1936 and 1943, tell their stories of male ignorance and the invisibility associated with that, of denial of their creativity, of a situation in which their only possibility to learn was from men. When the artists talk about sexual assault, about helplessness in the face of patriarchal structures in society and the family, about being defined by their role as mothers, and a lack of autonomy, the old rage still flashes through at times.
Nonetheless, what defines the documentary is its protagonists ́ passion and positivity. Their resistance ultimately found a prolific echo in the Austrian women ́s movement — in initiatives such as the Aktion unabhängiger Frauen (AUF) and the feminist artists ́ network Intakt. Encouraged by the Frankfurter Schule slogan „the private is the political,“ and reinforced by a collective of likeminded women, these forerunners found the courage to transform what was pressing on their minds into artistic works. Perschon provides this act of self-empowerment a creative form in She ist the other gaze: the white primed canvases by the artist Iris Dostal serve as a symbolic platform in the film, as a stage for narration and work. A respectful free space emerges in which the artists are invited to collaborate with the director in presenting and staging their works.
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