Vacuoles of Noncommunication: From Invisible Adversary to Invisible Revolt

Vacuoles of Noncommunication: From Invisible Adversary to Invisible Revolt


In Invisible Adversaries, eds. Lauren Cornell and Tom Eccles, Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.

Invisible Adversaries

VALIE EXPORT’s 1977 feminist science-fiction film Invisible Adversaries concludes with its protagonist Anna lying in her bed, listening to a radio news broadcast. Fully clothed with hat and gloves, she seems to be momentarily resting before embarking on an action or journey. Throughout the film, Anna has been increasingly distressed by an invisible alien invasion that is contagiously spreading in Vienna. She calls this invisible race the Hyksos and believes their invasion is increasing societal anger and rage, of which the film directly links to escalations of war, male domination, and patriarchal control. Detected only by Anna, the Hyksos are revealed to her as doppelgängers, in mirrors, paper cutouts, and photographs. Anna continuously documents the Hyksos invasion with her camera, in an effort to provide evidence of their existence, but ultimately fails to convince another person of the attack. At the film’s end, while Anna is in bed, the Hyksos outbreak is rampantly accelerating; a radio news broadcaster details the arrival of an intensified global war machine of diplomatic fissures, anti-terror legislation, and rapid developments in automated weaponry. The film leaves Anna in a suspended moment of reflection before action: Did she attempt to defeat the Hyksos? What became of this invisible threat? Especially challenging to answer is the latter because the objective status of the Hyksos is presented through Anna’s subjective experiences, which makes them a kind of feminist situated knowledge.