Inspiring Austrian Women: Friedl Kubelka / vom Gröller

On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2015 we would like to introduce you to a few Austrian women that have impressed and inspired us. Today Visual Arts Project Manager Vanessa Fewster writes about artist Friedl Kubelka / vom Gröller

Friedl Kubelka vom GroellerFriedl Kubelka is an Austrian photographer and filmmaker. Her art is part of a movement known as Feminist Actionism (linked to the more well-known movement of Viennese Actionism) from the 1970s where female artists posited their art at the centre of artistic debates on gender, the body, and politics. They used their sexuality to express their innermost selves on camera.

Kubelka’s most celebrated work is a photography series entitled Jahreportraits (Year Portraits) begun in 1972. Long before our contemporary obsession with the ‘selfie’ Kubelka photographed herself daily over a period of a year and has repeated the process every five years since. She is also an accomplished filmmaker, using the name Friedl vom Gröller, to present her film portraits. She was awarded the State Prize for Photography in 2005, Austria’s most prestigious photography award, and has had solo exhibitions at the Centre George Pompidou, Paris (1980), Fotogalerie, Vienna (2004), and was featured in an exhibition on Feminist Actionism alongside Valie EXPORT at Richard Saltoun Gallery, London in 2014.

I find her work remarkable for its honesty and the way she navigates her role as both artist and subject. Her relentless determination and commitment to her practice in the face of an aggressively male dominated art world of the 70s and 80s, is inspiring for women in all fields.

Vanessa Fewster is Visual Arts Project Manager & Public Relations Officer at the Austrian Cultural Forum London. She has an MA in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art and has been managing the visual arts programme at the ACF since 2012.

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