Since the early 1960s, Linda Christanell has explored female spaces, sexuality, and social attributions. Her own story and body make up the source of inspiration and thematic basis of her work. As such, her own hand emerges time and again in her works, both as subject and at the same time, as the object of the actions she stages. Characteristic of Christanell’s oeuvre is found objects that symbolize femininity and sexuality. The artist repeatedly uses jewellery, feathers, shells, as well as the lettering ‘sexy’ and ‘kiss’ with which she ironically comments on society’s standardised role models.
The interdisciplinary work of the Viennese avant-garde artist spans an arc from drawing to textile objects to performance, photography, and film. Hardly any work stands by itself, as Christanell always creates cross-links between early and new works, blending them into poetic picture stories.
After completing her studies in visual art, Linda Christanell went on to work in the fields of painting, object art, and installation. In the 1960s, she produced objects from new materials like foam and Plexiglas. The transience of these materials caused the artist to reinterpret the objects using linen. She continued to develop them into portable body-objects, which brought about her transition into performance as the next logical step in her artistic development. In 1976 Christanell and Renate Bertlmann founded the BC Kollektiv. The activities in the collective shaped her work as a performance artist and filmmaker. Her performances Fingerfächer (Finger Fan), Die weiße Kugel (The White Ball), and Bindung (Tie) brought her international acclaim near the end of the 1970s.
By documenting her performances, the artist arrived at photography and, finally, the medium of film, to which Christanell has increasingly devoted herself since the 1970s. The starting point for her films, composed of individual images, was always her own artistic works and her reflections upon media. Using photographic elements, trash objects, photos, and texts, Christanell created a complex, poetic, and indirectly autobiographical narrative style. The deconstruction of the traditional male gaze and the questioning of the functional mechanisms of the filmic medium are at the centre of her work. Her award-winning film work is located within the second wave of Austria’s female avant-garde filmmakers. Together, the artists of this period dealt with sexuality, physicality, eroticism, and the ensuing taboos.
‘This retrospective and comprehensive installation brings together examples of Linda Christanell’s work from the past 50 years in a spatial interplay. Work series which have not been shown before, such as her early Plexiglas and cardboard objects, as well as recent photo series offer a good overview of the artist and avant-garde filmmaker’s work’, explains curator Harald Krejci.
In the past few years, Christanell’s interests have been influenced by the evocative possibilities of the transfer of media, such as the redefinition and condensation of existing pictorial material. Her latest photographic works are collages of photos assembled on the floor according to formal aesthetic points of view, and then either combined with each other, with objects of kitsch, or with self-portraits.