Jul 1, 2013

Invisible Adversaries

Undoubtedly, arthouse sci-fi-horror flicks of the feminist alien invasion sort are not exactly the most popular subgenre, but if someone were to create such an innately ridiculous work, Uncle Adolf’s homeland of Austria would probably be the right place for such a seemingly idiotical and inanely idiosyncratic film as the ethno-masochistic birth place of Viennese Actionism and the static and nihilistic anti-völkisch celluloid sermons of German-Austrian Michael Haneke (Time of the Wolf, The White Ribbon). Indeed, Austrian feminist auteur Valie Export (Menschenfrauen, Die Praxis der Liebe aka The Practice of Love) directed such an anti-climatic science fiction work as her debut feature-length film entitled Unsichtbare Gegner (1977) aka Invisible Adversaries, a film about an undainty and somewhat deranged feminist artist suffering from schizophrenia who, on top of facing romance troubles with her equally left-wing yet unloving boyfriend, believes extremely aggressive space aliens known as ‘Hyksos’ have invaded earth and the bodies of humans in a pernicious plot to destroy the world. Directed by an associate of the Viennese Actionist movement who de-christened herself “Valie Export” in tribute to her favorite cigarettes and in anti-tribute to her father and husband or as she once explained herself, “I did not want to have the name of my father [Lehner] any longer, nor that of my former husband Hollinger. My idea was to export from my 'outside' (heraus) and also export, from that port. The cigarette package was from a design and style that I could use, but it was not the inspiration,” Invisible Adversaries is a vaginally-charged celluloid collage utilizing various artistic mediums, including video, still photographs, radio broadcasts, etc. of the fiercely feminized and foully fetishistic variety that is clearly aesthetically and thematically inspired by commie frog Jean-Luc Godard in its minimalism and cliché far-left politics. A woman who thought flashing her own and other women’s bushy beavers around in various Actionist-inspired films and public performances (including infamously entering a Munich art cinema wearing crotch-less pants), as well as allowing strangers to touch her breasts through a curtained box which she documented with her 1 minute short Touch Cinema (1968), would prove how absolutely liberated she was from the Aryan patriarchy, Valie Export, much like her Austrian and German feminist compatriots, rather ridiculously thought she could battle the supposed still lingering taint of female complacency of her mother’s generation during the Third Reich and with Invisible Adversaries, she seemingly unconsciously associates feminism with mental illness by way of a character whose growing contempt for men and the ghost of National Socialism is only transcended by her mental illness. That being said, Invisible Adversaries only works today as an accidental comedy (although the film does feature some scenes of intentional comedy, but it is just not nearly as effective) of the terribly dry and absurdly pretentious sort due to its Godard-esque minimalistic direction and set-design and lack of special effects, as well its innately inane diatribes against authority, patriarchy, Nazism, and the apparently black “Vienna heart.” The sort of soulless celluloid work created by dead souls for dead souls from a disenfranchised generation that self-righteously blamed their National Socialist parents for their own cultural disillusionment and self-hatred, Invisible Adversaries is just one of the many cinematic reasons why ethno-masochism and Frankfurt school intellectual swill have degenerated Europa into the uncultivated and cultureless corpse it is today.  Indeed, if anything, Invisible Adversaries is a sort of artsy fartsy celluloid suicide note that declares in a rather debauched manner the death of traditional Austrian kultur and community.

 As one learns during an off-screen and imaginary broadcast at the beginning of Invisible Adversaries, “An invisible power…An important announcement…Population…As we’ve just learnt…well-founded suspicion…An invisible adversary…a foreign, perhaps otherworldly power…An invisible enemy occupied the town and transformed people.” These supposed ‘invisible adversaries’ are known as Hyksos and are “hardly distinguishable from real humans” and “anyone could already be a Hyksos,” which strikes fear, paranoia, and self-subjected isolation in a female artist suffering from schizophrenia named Anna (played by Susanne Widl, who also starred in Export’s Menschenfrauen (1980) and the segment “lust” of the feminist omnibus film Seven Women, Seven Sins (1986)). On top of worry about the anti-human Hyksos threat, Anna and her intellectually pedantic pseudo-revolutionary boyfriend Peter (played by degenerate far-left artist Peter Weibel) obsess over Vienna’s ostensibly crypto-Nazi government and authoritarian police who, among others things, masturbate in front of a mirror in public in a scene director auteur Export must have felt was an ingenious and rather arousing allegory for patriarchal narcissism and whatnot. To prove his commitment to the anti-fascist commie cause, Herr Peter senselessly argues with a cop and is issued a citation as he proudly claims to his girlfriend Anna that he is willing to pay anything for “freedom of expression,” even if it proves to be a rather impotent, idiotic, and unrewarding display of individualism on his part. When not arguing with Anna via mundane mental masturbation, Peter playfully rubs his head on Anna’s vagina and rectum, remarking afterwards that “my hair stinks. I have to wash it.”

 A postmodern rebel without an organic artistic cause, Anna spends her time defiling traditional European art history by making aesthetically vulgar collages using classic paintings and magazine advertisement clippings, but also by making photocopies of her own vagina and looking at pictures of naked prepubescent boys and deformed children. In a rather vulgar display of penis envy (or what director Export probably absurdly believes is the opposite), Anna also cuts off her pubic hair and glues it to her face so as to create a mustache. Displaying her disgust at the idea of being a domestic housewife, Anna also cuts (or at least imagines so) turtles, beetles (which, to the dismay of modern vegan leftists, were exterminated for the sake of Export’s film), fish, and parakeets with a kitchen knife. In a relationship with a girly and bitchy untermensch who, although he shares her anti-authoritarian political beliefs and ‘liberated’ counter-culture views on sexuality, firmly believes “women are parasites,” Anna naturally has a number of fights with boyfriend Peter, which inevitably results in the severance of their sterile and less than steamy love affair of pubic hair sniffing, thus throwing the little lady in a deeper abyss of paranoia and fear of Hyksos, including the belief that an alien doppelganger is trying to snuff her out, but luckily she meets a female video artist and is introduced to the vaginally stimulating films of feminist documentarian Helke Sander (Break the Power of the Manipulators, The Trouble with Love), which gives her a false sense of empowerment in the face of her failed relationship and mental illness. Of course, being constantly blitzkrieged by news about the war in Vietnam, persecution of barbarian towelheads by Israeli Zionists (whose founder Theodor Herzl was inspired by the Jew-hating in Vienna), and Austria’s supposed crypto-fascism (unlike the kraut, the Austrians were never 'de-Nazified' by the Allies), Anna is ultimately more a victim of the media than some sort of imaginary alien menace. Personally, I think Anna, like virtually all of the degenerate artists of her disillusioned and born-defeated and guilt-ridden degenerate generation would not be suffering the mental illness that has totally consumed her if her Uncle Adolf won the Second World War. That being said, I do not think it is a stretch to say that Invisible Adversaries is the cultural symptom of a defeated people that is no longer able to take pride in their nation’s kultur, so they react relatively ridiculously by destroying said culture and making assholes of themselves by creating ugly films about ugly people doing ugly things. 

 At various points in Invisible Adversaries, a number of seemingly random yet thematically imperative references are made to Austria’s naughty National Socialist past, including in the first couple minutes of the film when a radio announcer states: “Moscow – Vienna. The Soviet News Agency TASS accused the Austrian Radio of serving the goals of fascist propaganda. The fact that former Hitlerite colonel Rudel could appear on T.V. must be seen as Part of the re-activation of neo-Nazi elements and anti-Semitic tendencies. Whilst in a recent T.V. discussion Henriette von Schirach, widow of the former Hitler Youth Leader, was given screen time for fascist propaganda,” thus underscoring the pathetic manner in which Austrians were expected to disavow their past history and heroes, which auteur Valie Export does with self-flagellating glee. In fact, Export goes so far as attacking all of mainstream Austrian cinema (as well as the Austrian collective with it), especially the dreaded nostalgic “Heimatfilm,” with the following nation-negating narration during Invisible Adversaries: “From 1939-45 Austria produced revoltingly sickly, dishonest films, known typically as “Viennese films”, and the elite of the Burg Theatre acted them. The same crew produced after the war the popular country and folklore films. This smooth transition from Nazi Austria to the 2nd Republic is typical of the hypocritical mentality of the country.” 

 Oftentimes described as a sort of feminist version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Invisible Adversaries can probably be better seen as the uniquely ugly manifestation of a lost generation of Austrian women who blame Austrian men for both the loss of the Second World War and national dignity and thus have lashed out in a seemingly nonsensical manner of wavering their unclad twats as a way to prove they no longer need a mensch to survive in this world. Ironically, protagonist Anna of Invisible Adversaries is most perturbed by her supposed alien doppelganger, thus demonstrating an intrinsic fear of herself, as well as herself being her own worst enemy, a fate that many feminists seem to suffer from, yet ultimately assign men the blame for. Aside from her early shorts like Mann & Frau & Animal (1973) aka Man & Woman & Animal, which features a woman masturbating in a bathtub as well as a nasty case of what seems to be a vaginitis on a putrid pussy and a rather gory case of menstrual blood flowing out of a gash, Invisible Adversaries is indubitably Export’s most artistically subversive and least banal work, which I guess does not say much considering the unspectacular nature of her cinematic oeuvre as a whole, but at least the film kept me moderately entertained, if not for all the wrongs reasons, the two times I viewed it. A less than wonderfully wanton window into the post-WWII Austrian female (feminist) psyche, as well as an accidental deconstruction of the Aryan feminist mind in a state of seeming panic, Invisible Adversaries is not only probably the best introduction to Valie Export’s art (be it film or otherwise), but also Austrian/German feminist film in general.  If nothing else, Invisible Adversaries will make it quite clear there has never been a skyscraper in the shape of a penis flytrap.

-Ty E

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