Das Vermächtnis der weiblichen Figuren aus der Vorgeschichte

13 - 15 September 2019 | MAMUZ Museum Mistelbach, Asparn an der Zaya

Das internationale Symposium bringt eine interdisziplinäre Gruppe von Forscherinnen und Künstlerinnen zusammen, um das Erbe prähistorischer Frauenfiguren zu erforschen und zu aktualisieren. Die zu diskutierenden Forschungslinien sind folgende: Deckt der im 19. Jahrhundert geprägte Begriff der „Vorgeschichte“ eine vorzugsweise weibliche Geschichte ab? Wie beeinflusst und formt archäologische Forschung und Funde die moderne und zeitgenössische Selbstwahrnehmung der europäischen Kulturen und des Geschlechts im Allgemeinen? Welche Art von Identifikation und Desidentifikation kann aus diesen Funden aufgebaut werden? Wie überschneidet sich die Bildarchäologie mit künstlerischer Produktion, Fantasie und Politik? Sind die weiblichen Figuren in der Lage, die Position der zeitgenössischen Frauen in der Region, in der sie gefunden wurden, zu stärken? Welche Hoffnungen und Projektionen treffen diese Figuren? Erlauben sie uns, eine neue Geschichte über uns selbst zu erschaffen?

Walpurga Antl-Weiser, Valeska Becker, Ute Burkhardt-Bodenwinkler, Claudine Cohen, Ida-Marie Corell, Heide Göttner-Abendroth, Federica Matta, Angela Melitopoulos, Christine Neugebauer-Maresch, Franz Pieler, Ebadur Rahman, Katharina Rebay-Salisbury, Elisabeth von Samsonow, Aranzatzu Saratxaga, Romana Schuler, Maria Stavrinaki, Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein

Das gesamte Symposium wird in englischer Sprache abgehalten.

Collage by Ida-Marie Corell – Athen, 2017

10.00 am – 6.00 pm


10.00 Franz Pieler, Director of the MAMUZ Museum of prehistory, ancient history and mediaeval archaeology in Asparn an der Zaya and Head of the Department
Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Project Director

Section I
Moderator: Angela Melitopoulos, The Royal Danish Academy of Copenhagen

10.45 Elisabeth von Samsonow, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna: Assignment from Below. Making Important Finds in Lower Austria Present. Weaving A Transdisciplinary Research Proposal
11.45 Heide Göttner-Abendroth, HAGIA International Academy: Modern matriarchy studies – cultural history – politics. What do they have to do with each other?
12.45 Le Théatre des Imaginaires. An experimental art video by Federica Matta, artist Paris

Lunch break

Section II
Moderator: Franz Pieler, Director of the MAMUZ Museum of prehistory, ancient history and mediaeval archaeology in Asparn an der Zaya and Head of the Department

14.30 Katharina Rebay-Salisbury, University of Vienna: Is Motherhood divine? Looking at the Social Status of Motherhood in European Prehistory
15.30 Valeska Becker, University of Münster: Fertility and death. On the interpretation of Female Figurines of the Neolithic Age
16.45 Performance Plastic and Water Concerto for Piano and Voice by Ida-Marie Corell

17.30 Goddesses’ Get-Together with Stefania Pia, DJANE Naples (food & drinks)



Franz Stephan Pieler, Director of the MAMUZ Museum of prehistory, ancient history and mediaeval archaeology in Asparn an der Zaya and Head of the Department of Archaeology at the State Government of Lower Austria

Franz Pieler, born July 26, 1975 in Vienna, began his studies in Prehistory and History in 1994. Doctorate on the Linear Pottery culture in the Horn Basin. From 2000 Excavation Manager for association ASINOE, from 2009 Research Assistant at Krahuletz-Museum Eggenburg. Since 1 January 2018 employed by the Dept. of Art and Culture of the Lower Austrian Provincial Government, responsible for the area of Prehistory and Medieval Archaeology of Landessammlungen NÖ and Scientific Director of MAMUZ. In addition to the focus on the early Neolithic period, Pieler has worked on numerous projects on historical archaeology and on contemporary history topics.


Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein,

Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Project Leader of The Dissident Goddesses‘ Network

Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein is Professor of Art History at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna’s Department of Art Theory and Cultural Studies. Research on art studies, feminist performative theory and artistic practice, production of body and space. Board member of mumok Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Vienna. Deputy Director of the Department of Art Theory and Cultural Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.



Section I


Elisabeth von Samsonow, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Assignment From Below. Making Important Finds in Lower Austria Present. Weaving A Transdisciplinary Research Proposal


My paper systematically addresses the different aspects we bring together in this project. First, I will put a focus on building strong interfaces between archaeology and the humanities (philosophy, sociology and economy) in order to ease the translation of knowledge between the fields and highlight the awareness for a common hermeneutics. Questions arising from this horizon are: How do archaeological finds and their interpretation challenge human self-understanding in concepts of history and (para)chronology? Or: How can, in our case, the story of the female figurines found in Lower Austria be engaged as a momentum in the revision of women’s roles in the region and beyond? Second, I will stress the consistency between the being-an-artwork of the female figurines in question and an aesthetic and artistic approach to them that will help to understand their legacy and their syntax. Finally, I will discuss the core idea of a common stratum of agriculture, geology/geosophy and archaeology, namely the face of the Earth and its function as a biophysical archive.


Elisabeth von Samsonow is an artist, Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Visiting Professor at Bauhaus University Weimar (2012), and member of GEDOK Munich. International exhibitions and curatorial work, teaching and research focus on philosophy and history in relation to a theory of collective memory, on the relationship between art, psychology, and politics throughout history until today, on the theory and history of the image of women or female identification (girl studies), sacred androgyny, and the modern “disintegration of the self.” Her artistic work comprises sculpture, performance, painting, and video. She explores the systematic and symbolic place of female sculpture in the artistic canon and the ecological aesthetic or geo-logic of bodies.



Heide Göttner-Abendroth, HAGIA International Academy

Modern matriarchy studies – cultural history – politics.

What do they have to do with each other?


I begin by giving a basic definition of how “matriarchy” is understood in modern matriarchy studies, obtained by studying living societies of this kind (empirical basis). Describing the economic, social, political and spiritual structures that show matriarchies to be gender-egalitarian, balanced, consensual societies, the lecture outlines where they still exist today, going on to explain what modern matriarchy studies imply for a review of cultural history and citing examples that refer particularly to the subject of “goddesses”.

I conclude by outlining the potential political implications of modern matriarchy studies.


Heide Göttner-Abendroth is a philosopher and researcher on culture and society specializing in matriarchal studies. She was born in Thuringia (Germany) in 1941 and is mother to three children, two daughters and one son. In 1973 she gained a Ph.D. in philosophy and theory of science at the University of Munich, and subsequently taught philosophy there for ten years (1973-1983). Since 1976 she has been doing pioneering work in the area of women’s studies in West Germany, as part of which she has published various books on matriarchal society and culture and has become the founding mother of Modern Matriarchal Studies. She works as an independent scholar. In 1986 she founded the “HAGIA. International Academy for Matriarchal Studies and Matriarchal Spirituality” in Germany and has been its director since the outset. She was a visiting professor at the University of Montreal/Canada in 1980 and at the University of Innsbruck/Austria in 1992. Since 1998 she has been a member of the “Institute of Archaeomythology” in California, USA. In 2003, she organized and supervised the First World Congress on Matriarchal Studies SOCIETIES IN BALANCE in Luxembourg, followed by the later Second World Congress on Matriarchal Studies: SOCIETIES OF PEACE in San Marcos, Texas/USA in 2005.



Federica Matta, artist based in Paris, Institut du Tout-Monde

Le Théatre des Imaginaires. A Film


The video by Federica Matta shows an animation of her pocket theatre “Théatre des Imaginaires”, in which the goddesses appear as drawn silhouettes. This animation of the goddesses is to be seen as an artistic interpretation and poetic expression.


Federica Matta is a Franco-Chilean-American artist who has been actively creating her own worlds for the past four decades. Her work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions, as well as public art sculpture, around the world. She is especially fond of public art sculpture, which she finds most rewarding due to its role as a “poetic acupuncture” of sorts that promotes consciousness and harmony in urban environments. In recent years, she has authored seven books that feature her drawings and her texts. Federica is also a regular contributor of political images to Le Monde Diplomatique (Chilean edition). She is a founder and member of the Institut du Tout-Monde.



Section II



Katharina Rebay-Salisbury,

Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology, University of Vienna

Is Motherhood Divine? Looking at The Social Status of Motherhood in European Prehistory


Pregnancy, childbirth and early childcare are often implicitly and explicitly associated with motherhood. But we know little about how the transition to motherhood was assessed in prehistory. Maternity is both a social and a biological phenomenon; pregnancy, childbirth and lactation are physical processes that can leave traces in the human skeleton. Within the framework of the ERC Strating Grant project “The value of mothers to society: responses to motherhood and child rearing practices in prehistoric Europe”, correlations between the social and reproductive status of prehistoric women will be investigated. The latest scientific analysis methods provide insights into the life worlds of prehistoric women and their children, which we compare with those of contemporary men.


Katharina Rebay-Salisbury Prehistoric archaeologist with a research focus on the European Bronze and Iron Ages, leader of the research group ‘Prehistoric Identities’. After gaining her PhD at the University of Vienna in 2005, Katharina Rebay-Salisbury was a post-doc at the Universities of Cambridge and Leicester in the UK, where she participated in research programmes on the human body and networks, researching the introduction of cremation in Late Bronze Age Europe and Iron Age networks of human representations. Her monograph ‘The Human Body in Early Iron Age Central Europe’ was published with Routledge in 2016. She returned to Vienna in 2015, with an FWF-funded project on the social status of motherhood in Bronze Age Europe. In the same year, she was awarded the ERC Starting Grant for the project ‘The value of mothers to society’. In this project, she investigates social reactions to pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood as well as the relationship between women’s reproductive and social status with an interdisciplinary team.

2016 she was elected member of the Young Academy of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. In 2017, she gained the teaching rights at the University of Vienna for the subject Prehistoric and Historical Archaeology with the habilitation thesis ‘Bodies, identities and social relations in Bronze and Iron Age Central Europe’.



Valeska Becker, University of Münster

Fertility And Death. On The Interpretation of Female Figurines of The Neolithic Age


The transition from the way of life as hunter-gatherers to the way of life as farmers and stockherders took place in a period of several thousand years in the Near East in an area that became known as Fertile Crescent. In this area the wild ancestors of today’s domestic animals and cereals were present. The beginning of the process marks increasing sedentarism, probably in connection with the first attempts to domesticate wild cereals in the 10th/9th millennium BC. The domestication of sheep and goats followed quickly and a little later that of pigs and cattle. With the development of pottery and the production of anthropomorphic, predominantly female figurines, the “Neolithic” package is largely tied up.

The new way of life subsequently spread to South-Eastern and Central Europe. The farmers and stockherders of Central Europe whose legacies can now be found from the Paris Basin in the West to the Ukraine in the East are referred to as a culture with Linear Pottery according to the decoration of their clay vessels. They also made small figurines of humans and animals. Thus a tradition that has ancient origins lives on: This practice was applied in all cultural phenomena of the early Neolithic, from the Near East to Greece and Southeast Europe. From the Central European Linear Pottery we know human and animal figures, as well as human and animal vessels, applications, handles and incised human figurines.

Neolithic figurines have nothing in common with the depictions of humans and animals of the Palaeolithic. Particularly in the Late Palaeolithic, on the one hand luxuriant female “Venus” figures appeared, but on the other hand highly stylized figurines as well as highly individually and realistically drawn human representations appeared as engravings. Animals depicted in cave paintings, engravings, sculptures and reliefs are often characterized by a high degree of realism.

In the Neolithic period, on the other hand, the human figures were characterized by a much higher stylization. Exuberant femininity apparently no longer played a role. Only a third of the figurines are characterized by sexual characteristics. Also the animal representations of the Neolithic are much more strongly stylized – sometimes it is not even possible to determine the animal species exactly.

It is still unclear who or what the figurines represented. Proposals for interpretation include considerations of fertility, death, renewal and ancestor worship.


Valeska Becker, University of Münster, completed her habilitation and was granted the teaching license for the subject of Prehistory and Early History. Since March 2017 she is an Academic Councillor at the University of Münster. Her research focuses on “Beliefs in the Neolithic: Remains of religious action and their interpretation”; “Old Europe in Neolithic and Copper Age Cultural change, communication networks, statements of material culture”; “Human-animal relationships Archaeozoology, domestication research, studies on the relationship between humans and animals against the background of different epochs”



Ida-Marie Corell, artist Berlin/ Obermarkersdorf

Performance: Plastic and Water Concerto for Piano and Voice

Researching the topic of the goddesses today through a contemporary female gaze inevitably brings contemporary issues into the picture, such as global warming, the return of the primordial feminine, ocean trash, plastification, native knowledge and wisdom, the privatisation of water, polarisation, healing as the new punk and spirituality as answer.

Plastic and microplastic penetrates natural circulation and has already been found in nature, space, food chains, living beings, human and animal blood, marine life, the oceans, the arctic, rivers, water and even snow: It is almost as present as spiritual minds expect the divine principle to be present in all existing matter.

Can the organism, the natural flow still carry a divine principle if this organism is permeated by plastic? Is the return of the divine mother principle the solution to global, interconnected challenges?

In this performance I will work with two predominant themes of our time—water and plastic, or the relationship between internal (water) and external (plastic). In this Concerto, water represents the possible remerging power of the goddesses of water and fertility and plastic the supremacy of capitalist logic.

The sound of the piano play, the vibration of voice and water may be understood as carriers of an energetic and emotional space, grid or link in which we are able to connect and tune into a collective future of god.desses, for a circular, gender equal, sustainable future. In the end of this performance I will leave the water wearing the plastic dress, carrying it with me to symbolically free the water from its plastic penetration.


Ida-Marie Corell is an artist, musical poet, performer, researcher, and synesthetic experimentalist working at the intersection of frequency, sound, art, and knowledge transfer. Her work is anti-, inter-, and multidisciplinary and explores synesthetic understanding and the concepts of real time, mass consumerism, identity, emotion, plastic, plastic bags, aisthesis, Sixinity, transfer, awareness, and transcendence. Corell is the founder of I BÄG YOU, an art and knowledge-transfer project about the plastic bag as an everyday object, and the cofounder of Kunstraum Retz, an exhibition space for experimental new approaches to art and culture near the former iron curtain.



Stefania Pia, DJANE Naples

Stefania Pia is an Italian multimedia artist and creative who also founded the free magazine PelleNoLeather in 2004 in Milan. She moved to New York in 2007, where she created 4EYESlab creative laboratory, which collaborates with international artisans, designers and artists. It was during this time that 4EYES was born, with her original “glitter eyebrows” sunglasses. In 2012 Paul Sevigny, the famous night impresario of New York, discovered her DJing talents and recruited her for his new bar Paul’s Baby Grand. 4EYES’ international eclectic music conquered New York and Know Wave radio, giving her the chance to create her own radio program entitled Groovy Classical, incorporating soundtracks and classical music that Pia liked to work to while producing art in her studio. Since 2010 she has been collaborating with Vogue Italia Online, and from the summer of 2018 Pia chose Palermo as a base to work from on AMERIKA 1491, a retrospective of all the American years, with works including necklaces and sculptures based on recycled and found objects, short films and photos from her archive, her FLUOminiatures, and large-scale collage paintings and tapestries.


10.00 am – 6.00 pm

Section III
Moderator: Elisabeth von Samsonow, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

10.00 Claudine Cohen, École des hautes études en sciences sociales Paris: Gender in Prehistory. Interpreting Women’s Roles through Palaeolithic art
11.00 Maria Stavrinaki, Université Paris 1: A Monstrous Origin: Art History’s Techniques of Normalisation of the Palaeolithic Art
12.15 V For Venus/Venezia, A filmic essay by Ebadur Rahman, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Lunch Break

Section IV
Moderator: Ebadur Rahman, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

14.30 Christine Neugebauer Maresch, Austrian Academy of Sciences: Fanny: Who are You? Female likeness – Idol – Goddess. A Quest to Prehistoric Statuettes from an archaeological View

15.30 Project introduction/film by Angela Melitopoulos, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts: Matri-Linear B

Coffee Break

16.30 Presentation of the first Goddesses Book: The Venus of Willendorf

18.00 Tour to MAMUZ Schloss Asparn/Zaya with guided tour by director Franz Pieler
Followed by a reception in the Hall of the Castle of Asparn a.d.Zaya, with kind support of the Society of Friends of MAMUZ
(A free shuttle-service is available, departure at MAMUZ Mistelbach at 17.30)

Section III



Claudine Cohen, École des hautes études en sciences sociales Paris

Gender in Prehistory. Interpreting Women’s Roles Through Palaeolithic Art


To what extent is a prehistory of gender possible? For several decades now novel questions based on a critique of stereotypes and received ideas have revived the perception of gender roles in the context of Palaeolithic societies and cultures. A trend in research today opens up the possibility of thinking not only about sexual anatomical dimorphism and physiological differences between men and women, but also about the gendered distribution of activities and roles in the framework of these social groups.

From its earliest manifestations some 40.000 years ago art provides crucial elements for a reflection on the female body: not only on its appearance, but also on the socio-cultural practices of which it is the actor and the object, and on its aesthetic and symbolic value. Upper Palaeolithic sites from the Atlantic shore to the Don Valley have yielded female figures painted or engraved on the walls of caves—carved in stone or ivory, or modelled in clay. The absence of faces, the insistence on primary and secondary sexual characteristics, and the extreme stylization of other body parts, have brought about the notion that these feminine representations were exclusively related to sexuality, fertility, and generation. However, it is possible to identify through them other important aspects of the existence of women in Palaeolithic societies and cultures, and to make hypothesis about their place within a symbolic system, in which the figure of femininity seem to be preponderant. The approach to gender issues ​​in prehistoric societies also requires that we consider, beyond the magnified and mythical figures of a Palaeolithic matriarch or goddess, the relations of domination, violence, and exploitation that women may have undergone in these societies of the distant past, as they can still suffer in ours.


Claudine Cohen is a philosopher and historian of Life and Earth sciences. She holds a double professorship, in Science at the Ecole pratique des hautes études (Life and Earth Science Section, Laboratoire Biogéosciences), and in the Humanities at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Centre for language and Arts) in Paris. She is also a former member of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study.

Her research, teachings and publications mostly concentrate on the history and epistemology of evolutionary biology, palaeontology, and the geosciences. She has devoted several books to the history of palaeo-anthropology and prehistoric archaeology, from the birth of these disciplines in Early Modern times to the present. Her studies focus in particular on gender issues in prehistoric sciences, and on the interpretations of prehistoric women’s roles within different scientific, ideological, political and social configurations. Focusing in particular on the iconic representations of women in prehistoric art, she reviewed and evaluated the various approaches that contributed to “seeing” and better understanding the place of women in prehistory, often deemed “invisible” by archaeologists.

She has received several awards, including the French Geological Society’s Eugen Wegmann International Prize . Her book La femme des origines was awarded both by the French Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques and by the Académie des Beaux Arts.



Maria Stavrinaki, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne

A Monstruous Origin: Art History’s Techniques of Normalisation of the Paleolithic Art


The invention of Palaeolithic art implied a genealogical enigma. The most ancient art ever found was formally accomplished and yet it disappeared, to be superseded by more schematic art forms. This puzzle was the art historical variant of a general structure in the modern invention of prehistory: its stupor, which was constantly undermining the taxonomy of words and things.


Maria Stavrinaki is an Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. She is working on the historicity of modern consciousness through the intersections of art, politics and human sciences. Her most recent publications include: Dada Presentism. An Essay on Art and History (Stanford, 2016), Le sujet et le milieu: Huit essais sur les avant-gardes allemandes (Mamco, 2018), Contraindre à la liberté: Carl Einstein, les avant-gardes, l’histoire (Les presses du réel, 2018) and Saisis par la préhistoire. Enquête sur l’art et le temps des modernes (Les presses du réel, 2019). She has codirected three special issues on the relations of prehistory and modernity (RES, Cahiers du Mnam) and she is the co-curator of the Exhibition Préhistoire. Une énigme moderne (Centre Pompidou, 2019).



Ebadur Rahman, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

V for Venus/Venezia, a filmic essay


V for Venus/Venezia is a 31min.video essay, researched, written, and directed by Ebadur Rahman.

V for Venus/Venezia is primarily based on Elisabeth von Samsonow’s performance The Psychopolitical Souvenir Shop with Ida-Marie Corell at the Spazio Ridotto during the opening of Elisabeth von Samsanow and Juergen Teller’s Exhibition at the 58th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale 2019.

V for Venus/Venezia also distils more than four hours of interview materials with Elisabeth von Samsonow, Ida-Marie Corell and other participants and observers, Elisabeth von Samsonow’s press conference at the Venice Biennale 2019, research on Palaeolithic art, Venus figurines, “pre-historic” and living goddesses animated through curated, found and scrap footage consistent with the aura, aesthetic and arguments of V for Venus/Venezia.

While V for Venus/Venezia references the predecessor of The Psychopolitical Souvenir Shop—Elisabeth von Samsonow’s Munich performance: The Parents’ Bedroom Show, the photographic documentation of which constitutes the core of Elisabeth von Samsonow and Juergen Teller’s Exhibition in Venice—the theorization and argumentation of the essay occur at a very specific level: First, the essay configures Elisabeth’s goddesses—Devi, Venus etc.—as an organizing principle and attempt to examine how goddesses trigger a thousand arrested dialectics—in images and mnemonic and chronotropic architectures—while acknowledging that this screen based work—like any filmic creation—temporizes space, and Devi is not in fact from or in any space but creates and eats time. The contours of The Parents’ Bedroom Show’s primal scene and Elisabeth’s demand for knowledge that she knows is available—but is being withheld from her—undergirds V for Venus/Venezia.

Also, The Psychopolitical Souvenir Shop, which can only be recalled and exist, now, on various screens—TV, tablet, laptop, telephone to name a few—unfolds, as I have argued in V for Venus/Venezia, on the level of the events of history and the level of an accumulation of cultural knowledge, but more importantly the level of the popular and unspoken spirit of the times which bridges many seemingly unequitable binaries: goddess and people; art and craft; occident and orient etc. Elisabeth von Samsonow in her The Psychopolitical Souvenir Shop anticipates discursive jouissance and desires knowledge;—but let us not forget such or any desire implies a loss: one only desires what one does not have. But Elisabeth von Samsonow’s performance is cleverly orchestrated to invoke jouissance, to not to localize loss in a way that allows it to be utilized, by choreographing the living goddesses’ economy of contamination: supernatural contaminating the natural, the transcendental the immanent. Hence, V for Venus/Venezia attempts to manifest how Elisabeth breaks down the illusion of a smooth performative panorama of time; personal vis-à-vis political; historical transition and continuity by erasing thresholds and disrupts complex taxonomies of societal place making.

V for Venus/Venezia, in its argumentation too, follows the logic of the performance to disturb the smooth exterior of this explicit reality to confront the invisibility of the “impossible” objects—masculine/feminine knickknacks, (de)archived goddesses-statuettes etc.—head on; the film uses Elisabeth/goddesses’ interactions with the public to animate—with meaning, coherence and relevance—each artefact and it’s contemporary significance.


Ebadur Rahman is a theorist/filmmaker and curator. He is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz; he has also trained in monastic settings. Ebadur received the highest national award of Bangladesh in Film. Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art premiered Ebadur’s film in a series called, CINEMA IS SOMETHING ELSE (el cine es otra cosa).

Ebadur was the founding artistic director/chief curator of Samdani Art Foundation; the executive editor of both Depart, and Jamini, the oldest and the widest circulated English language art magazines of Bangladesh. Ebad represented Bangladesh at the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Writer and Artist’s Conference, in New Delhi, India.

Publication (Last) “Navette– Shuttling through the Autochthonous & Allochthonous”, Potential Spaces, edited by Siegfried Zielinski, Peter Weibel and Daniel Irrgang. Published by ZKM | Center for Art and Media



Section IV



Walpurga Antl-Weiser, Natural History Museum Vienna

Female images of the Gravettian


Palaeolithic anthropomorphic representations have changed considerably over a time span of almost 30,000 years. Palaeolithic female figurines cannot be regarded as a cultural entity but as different sets of assemblages determined by their chronological and geographical background. Therefore, female representations of the Gravettian differ equally from preceding and following periods.

In the Mid Upper Palaeolithic (34,000 – 24,000) a big variety of art genres were used to present the female image: sculpture, relief, engravings and paintings. The contribution presents examples from all these genres. The combination of pictures of females, animals and signs according to Leroi-Gourhan will be discussed against the background of new scientific results. As to the figurines different pan-european types underline the interchange of ideas and long distance contacts in contrast to the Early Upper Palaeolithic, where each region is characterized by individual representations. Figurines like the so-called “Venus of Willendorf” can be found from France to Russia, but there are also slim figurines, abstract pieces often combining male and female sex characteristics, male figurines, regional styles and very individually carved faces. This shows us a very rich body of art, which possibly provides an insight into the ideas and beliefs of prehistoric people.

At the end of the Upper Palaeolithic (20,000 – 10,000 years old) very stylized and reduced presentations of women resembling rather signs than a human body predominate.


Walpurga Antl-Weiser, Birth: 15. 11. 1956 in Stillfried, Lower Austria; 1986 – Ph.D.

Thesis: „„Das Fundmaterial von Horn-Galgenberg und seine Stellung am Übergang vom Paläolithikum zum Mesolithikum”. Since 1984 – Lecturer at the Institute of Prehistory and Historical Archaeology at the University of Vienna 1992 Employment at the Prehistoric Department of the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Curator for the Palaeolithic and Neolithic collection. 2001 Deputy Head of the Prehistoric Department of the Natural History Museum. 1986 Honorary director of the Museum of Prehistory and Protohistory in Stillfried, Lower Austria




Angela Melitopoulos, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts

Project introduction/film: Matri-Linear B


Matri-Linear B is an audiovisual, artistic and experimental research project about the expression of the earth’s surface, it’s functions and forms. It will be shown as a video installation as part of the research and exhibition project Contemporary Prehistories—Dissident Goddesses.

In Matri-Linear B, prehistory, archaeology, and social technologies in matrilinear societies are juxtaposed with the help of objectifying imaging technologies that capture the surface of the earth (and below).

Angela Melitopoulos presents her research, which works through so-called cine(so)matic film narratives (cine: movement, soma: body) about knowledge formations embedded in the landscape and on the earth’s surface.

The landscape becomes a container of knowledge that navigates by means of movement based cinematic narratives translating the physical and optical space to form a sociological, ecological and archaeological sequence. Different logics between detail and panorama refer to different folds, to different political and social systems between endogamy and exogamy.

In Matri-Linear B, the earth’s surface is seen as a living expression: on the thin earth layer between the inner earth and the outer cosmos, the history of human activity emerges. Matri-Linear B indicates a direction of meaning, a becoming that leads from the earth’s surface, to its humus, its geology and agricultural practices, to its historical, archaeological and subterranean layers and its biosphere. The project looks at artistic ways of seeing landscape through technology as a function of visual culture. At the same time it debates the interpretation of images of the surface of earth by which today analysis of climate change and economies of agriculture and ecology are discussed. These aspects build constituents of a ‘schizo-analytical’ view of the change occurring on the earth, telling of our mobility, connectivity, trade routes and gender relations. With an experimental approach from the time based arts lines of flight are developed.

The project is based on an ethical concern that criticizes the production of capitalist subjectivity as a contract between patriarchal nation-states and corporate cultures as subject-object agencies of modernity. Thus, this artistic research also refers to current political environmental struggles that have long since extended ethical and political arguments to gender politics and call for an environmental policy that revaluates communal social technologies.

This proposition thesis distances itself from the historical fixations of Western Modernism through spatial definitions, scaling, and geometric cartographies on which capital economies are based.

Against a theological formation, the project follows the use of the knowledge of bodies as competent tools for an older form of knowledge production with the earth, which reinvents itself today.


Angela Melitopoulos is an internationally renowned artist whose projects are shown in museums worldwide. Her work consists of complex cine(so)matic cartographies that assume the form of video installations. Since the late 1990s the artist’s practice has been characterized by a unique relationship between research and the narration of political geographies on the one hand, and her use of the non-narrative properties of moving images, as geographies of affects and intensities on the other. Angela Melitopoulos holds a Ph.D. in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College London. Currently she teaches as a professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, and is a senior researcher at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

10.00 am – 1.00 pm

Section V
Moderator: Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

10.00 Walpurga Antl-Weiser, Museum of Natural History Vienna: Venus of Willendorf

11.00 short presentations of research formats within the project:
11.00 Romana Schuler, University of Applied Arts Vienna: Interviews with Women in the Weinviertel. A Field Report
11:45 Ebadur Rahman, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna: Dakini Sutra. The Muted Matrix of Seven Godly Mothers
12:45 Aranzatzu Saratxaga, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna: The Genus of Goddess Figurines and Their Characteristics. A Reading/Interpretation
13.00 Ute Burkhardt-Bodenwinkler, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna: The Idea of a Digital Data Set for a Pop-up Temple—A Suggestion for Lower Austria; Performance by Valentin Postlmayr, Dame Etna

Farewell snack

Section V



Christine Neugebauer Maresch, Austrian Academy of Sciences

Fanny: Who are You? Female likeness – idol – goddess, a quest to prehistoric statuettes from archaeological view


The discovery of one of the oldest statuettes in Stratzing near Krems/Danube in 1988 is a good example of the possibility of real surprise: It was the first “Venus” of the Aurignacian, the oldest culture of homo sapiens in Europe dating back around 36,000 years. All the other well-known statuettes, like the Venus of Willendorf, belonged to the Gravettian, from the middle of the Upper Palaeolithic period (about 30,000 years old).

The impression conveyed by the posture of “Fanny” is one of some activity, perhaps like dancing, and it was this that prompted her nickname as a reference to Austria’s most famous dancer of the 19th century, Fanny Elßler. This contrasts with the static positions of the later statuettes, hence we believe this, as well as their expressions – and the sense behind them – should be interpreted differently.

In the wide field of possible interpretations, archaeologists are traditionally looking for ethnological similarities. Connections to the spirit world of indigenous people, living as hunter-gatherer societies, can be useful for theories and models, but they do not provide proof. Environment, climate and resources are crucial elements that shape the expressions of “culture”, especially that of such groups – and nowhere in today’s world has the same living conditions as those of the Ice Ages in Europe. Yet there is another question behind the archaeological finds and anthropological samples: Is there something in the human psyche that hasn’t changed since prehistoric times? Are there parallels all over the world? Over the last few decades shamanism has been “discovered” in archaeology more and more. Today, if you excavate a strange burial, it simply seems modern to speak about a shamanic grave, but the essential element of shamanism is an altered state of consciousness (something that has been confirmed by EEG measurements), induced by rhythmic stimulation or forced by special drugs, which enables the shaman to travel into another reality. It is a worldwide phenomenon, as much in the past as in the present. A lot of the elements of the shamanic journeys can also be found in the European myths and fairy tales.

The study of the Stone Age statuettes confirms their connections to the spiritual world, but we see differences in their expressions – and their use – and we aim to interpret them more as special people than as goddesses. We will try to draw a comparison between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic statuettes and confront the question of where the border of archaeological interpretation lies.


Christine Neugebauer-Maresch is a prehistoric archaeologist at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OREA). She has worked on excavations of all kinds involving archaeological resources such as settlements, fortifications, burials and ritual constructions and has given numerous presentations at museums and exhibitions. Since 1988 she has taught courses at the University of Vienna (Institutes of Prehistory and Anthropology), producing her habilitation thesis “Geistige Welt der Steinzeiten” in 2010. She is a corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and from 1999 to 2016 was head of a new organized research group for Paleolithic investigations. Her greatest successes have been Austria’s first Paleolithic burials and the statuette of Stratzing.



Romana Karla Schuler, University of Applied Arts Vienna, IERSID, From Global Village to Any Village, Research Institute for Regional Structures in the Age of Digitization

Interviews with Women in the Weinviertel. A Field Report


The interview series as part of the project Contemporary Prehistory is intended to reflect a contemporary view of the lives of women in rural structures as they still exist to a great extent in the Weinviertel. In individual discussions, the women will discuss their living conditions, ideas and goals. After consultation with the interviewees, it will also be possible to record the interviews by video or audio recording.

The aim is to draw a current demographic picture of women’s lives in the Weinviertel. The interviewees should span all age groups and, most significantly, come from an agricultural environment. An additional cross-section would be obtained if several generations of the female line within a family association were asked about their social conditions and roles.

The results are presented in a summary in four “Goddesses books”. Final analyses of the interviews can be further processed in the form of a book or film as well as “material” for artistic performances, which are to be realized within the framework of the current project.

In addition, the entire interview series represents a useful collection of data for art/research/knowledge.


Romana Karla Schuler studied Art History and Philosophy (1987–1993 in Innsbruck); doctoral studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (2006–2012) on the subject of experimental perception in science and art with a particular focus on apparent motion in virtual reality. Along with several artistic works in the fields of painting and sculpture she has been increasingly focused on new media in contemporary art since 1987. She was involved in the establishment of the Leopold Museum at Museumsquartier in Vienna as a member of the artistic director’s team and curator and conceptualized the new Hermann Nitsch Museum at Museumszentrum Mistelbach. Founded “IERSID, From Global Village to Any Village, Research Institute for Regional Structures in the Age of Digitization” together with Ursula Hentschläger. She is based in Hadres, Lower Austria, where she opened the Kunstscheune IERSID_Art_Club in 2018.



Ebadur Rahman, Academy of fine Arts Vienna

Dakini Sutra, The Muted Matrix of Seven Godly Mothers


The principal thrust of my project is to delineate the erased and suppressed matrix of the poverty-row living South Asian minor goddesses, practiced as what Karl Marx referred to “practical, human sensuous activity” contra the systemic violence of Euro-universality and Modernism. I’d argue that these minor and naïve goddesses largely function within Eurasian art history as negative spaces. In the process of history-ing the native and naïve minor goddesses as “practical, human sensuous activity”, I will illuminate the muted matrix and few key erased events and moments that mark what Gilles Deleuze called the shift from the “true” grand narratives—of European-ness, nationalism, land, art, spirituality etc.—to “the powers of the false” —the false narration that invokes a people, embodying an erased or eliminated history—in Eurasian cultural memory vis-à-vis Modernism.

Entangling Eastern and Western philosophy, media study, art history and archive study, the signal topoi of my theoretical endeavour will identify and interrogate the protocols and procedures that enable the politics of erasure to situate and un-see the historical blind spots vis-a-vis minor goddesses, in order to maintain the coherence of the “true” grand narratives of Modernism. My interrogation of the “true” grand narrative—its individual protagonists and the temporality that are represented as smooth, linear and, synchronized—of the Anglo-Eurasian (art) history—within the context of Modernism—and the genealogical tracing of a shifting “false” narration will orient towards making cognizance of the native goddess practices as a soft philosophy machine performing “practical, human sensuous activity”.

In the proposed project, I will inaugurate my investigative telos firstly to frame a discussion of the contemporary and metropolitan hybridization and presentification of 33 Million gods and goddesses, in South Asia, that are stabilized by strict hierarchy—this cathexis by division of labour and status, as it were, are constructed and conciliated in the complex and interpenetrating binary and rivalry of great goddesses and minor mother deities, while the high pantheon is male focalized. While the genealogy of some of the Great Goddesses e.g. Kali renders the distinction between Aboriginal and Aryan indeterminate; and Great Goddess Durga too is democratized and domesticated in the Bengal region, it is the minor mother Goddesses which, in the quotidian cultural experience and practice, temporalize the stagings of their being in and of the local oikos by working as affective technologies to traffic transcendent to the immanent, removing even the thin veil between supernatural and natural—and thus making the phenomenal constantly merge with and impregnate the ordinary—to the extent that worshiping these mothers foments important decolonizing, modernizing and even romantic-fascist social forces.

Here I am advancing that when the Maha Devi— the great goddesses—of the male imaginary recedes in the realm of big festivals and corporate sponsored temples, the minor mothers in their intimate biotic sphere inaugurate an economy of contamination: not only everydayness is contaminated by the transcendental but the devotee of the minor mothers activate these goddesses by propitiating the vegetable and animal worlds: Gestures and rituals begin at the courtyard, at the podium of the tulsi tree; offerings are made to snakes, frogs, turtles and rain clouds; rice pudding with cinnamon paste is fed to the farming land; minor mother Manasha, the goddess of snake, Sitala the goddess of Small pox or Ola Bibi the folk cholera-goddess’ index of bhabas—affective essences— engender a communal transference circuit for and produce affective relationships with the women who sustain South Asian rural societies. Perhaps more importantly these minor mothers inaugurate a tightly structured counter-theology of Puranic syncretism in the intersection of not only Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism and indigenous animist religions, but open up the horizon of episto-affective feelings, from a polyphonic culturility rather than from within a system of belief; cross-gendered bhabas: cultural and social practice of men affecting feminine, identity crossing, trance, minstrel-nomadism become ways to gain the minor mothers’ intimacy to access the technology of affects and, towards the presentification of these affects into the language and the social.


Ebadur Rahman is a theorist/filmmaker and curator. He is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz; he has also trained in monastic settings. Ebadur received the highest national award of Bangladesh in Film. Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art premiered Ebadur’s film in a series called, CINEMA IS SOMETHING ELSE (el cine es otra cosa).

Ebadur was the founding artistic director/chief curator of Samdani Art Foundation; the executive editor of both Depart, and Jamini, the oldest and the widest circulated English language art magazines of Bangladesh. Ebad represented Bangladesh at the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Writer and Artist’s Conference, in New Delhi, India.

Publication (Last) “Navette– Shuttling through the Autochthonous & Allochthonous”, Potential Spaces, edited by Siegfried Zielinski, Peter Weibel and Daniel Irrgang. Published by ZKM | Center for Art and Media



Aranzatzu Saratxaga, Academy of fine Arts Vienna

The Genus of Goddess Figurines and Their Characteristics. A Reading/Interpretation


In the course of the unfolding of the anthropo-technical theses, according to which the evolution of mankind takes place in interaction with non-human artefacts or tools, my contribution aims to present a hermeneutic of the symbolic memory of the matrixial using the example of many Venus figurines. André Leroi-Gourhan, along with other palaeontologists, has put forward the thesis of a mutual and inner connection between the technical, physical and psychological individuation of the Incarnation. The peculiar process of hominization underlies the evolutionary biological fact called neoteny, according to which human morphogenesis is characterized by an evolutionary delay, so that humans are determined by an organological unspecified-ness for the best possible adaptation to their environment. This condition of human development proves the fact that adaptation to the environment through media techniques, such as writing and art, is presupposed, which in turn transforms the outside world into a meaningful worldliness (cultural memory, socio-ethnological signifiers, etc.).

In this context, I will discuss the mysterious event of cultural history, which classifies the Venus figurines—as a diverse group of artifacts—as a testimony of the oldest artificial creation of mankind. The figurines are a specific symbolic interpretation. Here, aesthetic figuration is regarded as externalization or as a form of expression, whereby the inner and outer milieus are in an inner relationship: The outer milieu cannot be understood without the inner milieu (noetic/poetic soul). The inner milieu consisted of the web of anamnestic memories woven into and through the artefacts (Venus figurines) so much so that they form an artificial memory.

Against this background I will examine the question of the order of the representations of the figurines and then hypothesize these phenomena: externalized or deprived signs are connected between the external milieu (artefacts as technology) and the internal milieu (anamnestic memory).


Arantzazu Saratxaga Arregi is a post-doc researcher at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Additionally she teaches courses and participates in seminars with a focus on cultural engineering, media theory and cybernetics at various German universities and colleges. Her philosophical project is the development of a “matrixial” philosophy. She studies developmental and building processes of closed systems and their environmental relations.



Ute Burkhardt-Bodenwinkler, Academy of fine Arts Vienna

The Idea of a Digital Data Set for a Pop-up Temple—A Suggestion for Lower Austria

Notes by Ute Burkhardt-Bodenwinkler

Performance by Valentin Postlmayr, Dame Etna


This project goes back to the origin of art, architecture. Fascinating, distant ancestors; the absolute perfection, spatial dimension, everything was already there; they had already reached and represented everything. At the same time, at the beginning of the 20th century, prehistoric cave painting, various Venus figures and the birth of modern art were discovered. Prehistory served modernity as a source of inspiration and led to the revolution of art. The exploration of the past not only serves as self-assurance about one’s own origins, but also offers the opportunity to become a stranger to oneself through temporal transformations. When the industrial age began, archaeology, geology and other disciplines exhumed the deep past and established a vision of old social and artistic structures as anonymous, hermetic, not very variable—indeed practically static. There is a pronounced tension, even a contradiction, between these large blocks of the past and the rapid pace and flow of modern times.

The project follows the national and international archaeological finds of the goddess figures. The aim is to irritate, disrupt and harass the scientific demarcations that have taken place so far, to make them perhaps more visible, and above all to overcome these demarcations with relish. The structuring of a new topology, geographically and poetologically, enables the digital data sets to occupy places and spaces for the so-called pop-up temples and to provide suggestions for Lower Austria.

The principle of open source information as opposed to patented intellectual property is fundamental to what we call a collaborative society. The project of a digital dataset makes so-called pop-up temples available to society, thus reacting to the process of migration, especially by young women from the periphery to the centre. These contemporary, spatial and performative interventions counteract the loss of identity. The location of the pop-up temples shows existing, but so far untapped potentials in both rural and urban space. (Fill the Gaps.) The temples represent the “tent of the new, modern nomad”; they offer new options for moving and dwelling. They provide spaces for new collective rituals. This is an important role because it creates and cultivates community and social values with regard to an ideal. These temples should help new ritual interventions to become a visible and constitutive element and lead to a new rural and urban identity. We need great moments, great spaces for the goddesses of the present and the future.


Ute Burkhardt-Bodenwinkler is a senior post-doc researcher at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

She is an architect, urban researcher and theorist who lives and works in Vienna. She works in the artistic, cultural and scientific field with a focus on urbanism and spatial theory. Ute Burkhardt-Bodenwinkler studied Architecture in Stuttgart and completed a master’s degree at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. She founded her own studio burkhardt.bodenwinkler Architekten together with Markus Bodenwinkler and is the co-founder of the architectural group 2M2S2B as well as of experimonde with P. Michael Schultes. Co-founder of content.associates (2010), an interdisciplinary working group. Foundation of the Kunstverein fAN in 2013 together with Amer Abbas, Robert Pfaller and Markus Bodenwinkler. Since 2017 she has headed the Kunstverein fAN. Together with Irini Athanassakis and Elisabeth von Samsonow, she is the co-founder of the “Goddesses Network”.