Curated by the artist Andrea Pichl, the exhibition What Our Strength Is shows works by fifty female artists from three generations from the GDR. In different genres, the artists deal with multi-layered themes. Some were already active in the GDR. However, the exhibition is not dedicated to a narrative of the GDR or a historicisation of art from the GDR, but to biographies and the question of how thematic approaches are shaped by them. A few works are represented that were already created in the GDR.
Image above: Photo: Eric Tschernow
The exhibition absolutely assumes that it fundamentally matters where one comes from. How biographies unfold shapes content and structural approaches. However, neither a categorisation nor even a reduction to supposedly recognisable aesthetics or themes is possible.
Just as the origin from the GDR is essentially relevant, it is at the same time, although not always evident in the work, also a prerequisite for substance, power and relevance in the contemporary context!
The exhibition also sees itself as a counter-design to previous, widely received exhibitions of recent years, which were dedicated to art and women artists from the GDR. In these survey exhibitions, for example, women artists were represented by only 14 per cent (Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig, 2019) and 19 per cent (Gropius Bau, 2016). At the Kunstpalast Düsseldorf 2019/2020, there were still three of the 13 female artists – a rate of 23 per cent. The works of female artists from the GDR continue to appear rarely in contemporary exhibitions. However, the problem of intra-German discrimination that goes hand in hand with a West German cultural hegemony is rarely addressed. Mostly it is ignored. Yet a comparative look at other German-German structures quickly reveals how exclusion works, especially for women in cultural and art institutions, and the disparity between the representation of East and West German cultural workers. Currently, for example, there are only two female museum or foundation directors in Germany who come from the GDR. Angelika Richter, the first female university rector from the GDR, has been in this position since June 2021 at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee. Due to obvious grievances, the exhibition What Our Strength Is shows fifty female artists from the GDR from three generations working with different media. The exhibition is accompanied by a supporting programme and a collection of texts.
Essays by female curators, art historians and artists from the GDR are republished in a collection of texts and contextualise the exhibition: Dr Angelika Richter, Dr Hiltrud Ebert, Elske Rosenfeld, Charlotte Misselwitz, Prof. Else Gabriel and Suse Weber.
The supporting programme will be introduced by a discussion with ZEIT journalist and author Jana Hensel, curator and artist Andrea Pichl and artist else Gabriel. On five Thursdays and at the exhibition’s finissage, the films “Fünf Sterne” by Annekatrin Hendel, “Im Stillen laut” by Therese Koppe and the documentary “Partisan” by Adama Ulrich will be shown; Katja Lange-Müller will read from “Drehtür” and Katharina Warda from “Der Ort, aus dem ich komme, heißt Dunkeldeutschland”; “The Dark Side of the GDR” is a staged reading by Bibiana Malay and Grit Diaz de Arce.
Jana Hensel in conversation with Andrea Pichl
and Else Gabriel
“The Dark Side of the GDR”
Staged reading with Grit Diaz de Arce
and Bibiana Malay
Katharina Warda reads from
“The place I come from is called
Film screening “Five Stars
(D 2017, Director: Annekatrin Hendel)
Film screening “Partisan
(D 2018, Director: Adama Ulrich,
Lutz Pehnert and Matthias Ehlert)
Katja Lange-Müller reads from
Film screening “Im Stillen laut”
(D 2019, Director: Therese Koppe)
and talk with Therese Koppe,
Erika Stürmer-Alex and
Vernissage: Friday, 2 September. 17:00 till 23:00
Exhibition dates: Saturday, 2 September – Sunday, 30 October