The nGbK Berlin will host our exhibition on a radical GDR women’s collective presented for the first time for a wider audience with unique archive material.
The Erfurt Women Artists’ Group (1984–1994)
Susanne Altmann, Dresden, Kata Krasznahorkai, Berlin, Christin Müller, Leipzig, Franziska Schmidt, Berlin, Sonia Voss, Berlin
Monika Andres, Tely Büchner, Elke Carl ✝, Monique Förster, Gabriele Göbel, Ina Heyner, Verena Kyselka, Claudia Morca Bogenhardt (from 1988), Bettina Neumann (from 1988), Ingrid Plöttner ✝, Marlise Schmidt (from 1988), Gabriele Stötzer, Harriet Wollert
As a group, we felt brash and special. We enjoyed being not as boring as the whole East – recalls Gabriele Stötzer about the Erfurt Women Artists’ Group.
Collective democratic action, an emphasis on processuality, a social experiment of shared living and working, feminist self-determination including a group-therapy approach and bold political stances: These were the ingredients for the 8-mm-films, performances, texts, fashion-object-shows, manifestos, experimental music and printmaking accomplished by the Erfurt Women Artists’ Group. By East German standards, this fusion of women with the sole aim of creating art together, without making compromises, without academic skill, without any fear either of themselves or of the reactions they might elicit in and from a totalitarian state, was a truly unique phenomenon. Especially against the background of daily life in the GDR, with its mindless routines, the Erfurt model served as a beacon for liberation and unconditional female empowerment.
This exhibition is the first to study in depth the archival material and present the work of the Erfurt Women Artists’ Group. Starting with five key films, we will familiarize viewers with the idiosyncratic iconography of the group, their experiments and sources of inspiration, as well as the personal contributions of each participant. Photographic, sonic and textual elements, as well as a selection of original performance costumes will complete an unconventional spatial choreography.
The material, much of which has come to light for the first time through our research, touches on universal topics such as femininity/femaleness, social critique and visionariness, collectivity and visual deviance. The existential drive that motivated these artists in the 1980s is no less relevant today. Their artistic production testifies to a bravery vis-à-vis the media, the public and the state almost unrivaled in the GDR.