Gabriele Stötzer

Gabriele Stötzer was born in Emleben, East Germany, in 1953.

In the mid-1970s, she studied at a teacher training college in Erfurt, but was expelled for political reasons. Her further opposition activity earned her a one-year prison sentence. After being released, she became involved in art, running a gallery and creating her own works, which included not only photography, film, painting and performance, but also textiles, ceramics, created objects, art books and costumes. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Stötzer co-initiated the first occupation of the Stasi (Ministry for State Security of the GDR) headquarters in Erfurt in order to prevent its files from being destroyed. After the political transformation, she continued her artistic work, participated in exhibitions and published eight books. The artist lives and works in Erfurt, teaching university seminars in Performance and delivering lectures on Feminist Art and Being a Contemporary Witness. In 2013, she was awarded the Federal Republic of Germany’s Order of Merit for her social and political activities.

During her studies, Stötzer was an active resistance fighter. For drawing up a petition in defense of a fellow student who had been expelled from university, she was removed from the student roster. Afterwards, she was sentenced to forced labour. On the wave of protests about the revocation of Wolf Biermann’s citizenship, the artist decided to draft a petition for the singer’s release and transport it by train, but was caught by the Stasi. The authorities classified her act as insult to the state and sentenced her to a year in prison. From the end of her detention until the political changes in 1989, Stötzer was under constant surveillance by the Stasi, who collected material on her activities. Her private life and creative activity were under surveillance, she faced provocations and in 1981 the independent gallery Im Flur [In the corridor], which the artist ran, was ordered to shut down.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Stötzer concentrated on her own artistic work. She did not limit herself to a single medium. In addition to a novel about her experience in prison, she wrote short stories and poetry. After taking series of photographs, Stötzer used to arrange them on boards designed by herself. Sometimes she designed art books from these series of works. She often used single photographs as postcards, later sent to friends. The artist was involved in collective and participatory activities. She collaborated with other artists in performances, photographs and films with a Super 8 mm camera. Together with female artists living in Erfurt, they founded the art group EXTERRA XX in 1984. Apart from Stötzer, the group included Monika Andres, Gabriele Göbel, Ina Heiner, Angelika Hummel, Birgit Quehl, Claudia Bogenhardt, Tely Büchner, Monique Förster, Harriet Wollert and Verena Kyselka. As the artist says, her time in prison taught her the importance of female solidarity and cooperation, which is why she was so keen to initiate the formation of new groups of female artists. Spontaneous group performances and public actions were often recorded, but the artists made films based on pre-prepared scenarios as well. Gabriele Stötzer was also associated with the East German punk subculture and the squatting scene. Together with its members, she ran an underground publishing house and then involved them in her own artistic projects.

Gabriele’s work, like that of many female artists in the former GDR, has only just begun to be discovered in recent years. Her work has been shown in group exhibitions such as: re:act feminism, Academy of Fine Arts, Berlin (2008); Gender Check. Femininity and Masculinity in Eastern Europe, MUMOK – Museum of Modern Art, Vienna (2009), Zachęta – National Gallery of Art (2010), Warsaw; Voices of Dissent: Art on the GDR 1976-1989, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (2016); 100 Ways of Thinking, Kunsthalle, Zurich (2018) and in the solo exhibition Conscious Inability: The Archive of Gabriele Stötzer, GfZK, Leipzig. The artist’s films were presented as part of the Trashing Performance programme, Tate Modern, London (2011) and at the 70. Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival (2020).


Selected solo exhibitions:


Gabriele Stötzer, Loock Galerie, Berlin, DE

I come from a country that no longer exists, Galeria Monopol, Warsaw, PL


Conscious Inability. The Gabriele Stötzer Archive, GfZK, Leipzig, DE


Das Brennen der Worte im Mund,  KTR Galerie, Leipzig, DE


Schwingungskurve Leben, Klassik Stiftung, Weimar, DE


Form in Form, Erfurt, DE


Wörtherstraße, Berlin, DE


Kürschnergasse, Erfurt, DE


Selected group exhibitions:


Restless Bodies. East German Photography 1980–1989, National Gallery of Art, Vilnius, LT

Zerbrechlich!, Brandenburgisches Museum für moderne Kunst, Cottbus, DE


Stich für Stich. Faden um Faden. Textile Bild/Räume, BLMK, Cottbus, DE

Maximal radikal. Textile Objekte, Filme und Performances aus Ost und West von 1970 bis heute, BLMK, Cottbus, DE

Female Sensibility. Feministische Avantgarde aus der Sammlung Verbund, Lentos, Kunstmuseum, Linz, DE

Entgrenzungen – Von öffentlichen und privaten Sphären, Kallmann–Museum, Ismaning, DE


Work and Continuation (Werk und Fortsetzung), Galerie Eigenheim, Berlin, DE

Poetry & Performance. The Eastern Europe Perspecitve, Contemporary Museum, Wrocław, PL


Artists & Agents. Performance Art and Secret Services, HMKV, Dortmund, DE

From Far Away. Images of the GDR, Museum Villa Stuck, Monachium, DE

Fotograf Festival X. Uneven Ground, Fotograf Gallery, Prague, CZ

Die schaffende Galatea. Frauen sehen Frauen, Kunsthalle Talstraße, Halle, DE

Restless Bodies. East German photography 1980 – 1989, Rencontres d’Arles, Arles, FR

Present Tense 2019: Task of Remembrance, Chinese Culture Center Visual Art Center, San Francisco, USA

Poetry & Performance, Motorenhalle Dresden, Dresden, DE

Palast der Republik. 1989/2019. Come Together, Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Berlin, DE


The Medea Insurrection: Radical Women Artists behind the Iron Curtain (Medea muckt auf. Radikale Künstlerinnen hinter dem Eisernen Vorhang), The Wende Museum, Culver City, California, USA

The Medea Insurrection: Radical Women Artists behind the Iron Curtain (Medea muckt auf. Radikale Künstlerinnen hinter dem Eisernen Vorhang), Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, DE

Anti-Image (Gegenbilder), Gropius Bau, Berlin, DE

Deutschland, Galeria Eigenheim, Weimar, DE

Hinter dem Spiegel (Po drugiej stronie lustra), BWA Zielona Góra, PL (works from collection of BLMK, Cottbus, DE

Poetry & Performance, Verein Shedhalle, Zurich, CH

100 Ways of Thinking, Kunsthalle, Zurich, CH

Curators Choice, Galerie Springer, Berlin, DE

Traumwelten, Kunsthalle Thalstraße, Halle, DE

Feminismus und Klassenbewußtsein, Sprechsaal, Berlin, DE

Underground Improvisation, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, DE

Left performance history, nGbK, Berlin, DE

Gerissene Fäden, BLMK —Brandenburgisches Landesmuseum für moderne Kunst, Cottbus, DE


Zwischen Ausstieg und Aktion. Die Erfurter Subkultur der 1960er, 1970er und 1980er Jahre, Kunsthalle Erfurt, DE

The Present Order, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig, DE

 A Sort of Sound — Klang in der Bildenden Kunst, Galerie Eigenheim, Weimar, DE

Handlungsanweisungen in der Kunst, Galerie Eigenheim, Weimar, DE


Gegenstimmen. Kunst in der DDR 1976–1989, Gropius Bau, Berlin, DE


Das Glücksprinzip, Galerie Eigenheim, Weimar, DE


Re:bellion Re:ligion Re:form — Künstler agieren im Umbruch, The Kunstsammlungen Zwickau, Max Pechstein Museum, Zwickau, DE

So nah… weit fern. Bilder aus der Hafterfahrung, Gedenk und Bildungsstätte Andreasstraße, Erfurt, DE


Zwischen Ausstieg und Aktion. Die Erfurter Subkultur der 1960er, 1970er und 1980er Jahre, Kunsthalle, Erfurt, DE

Re.act.feminism, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, DE


Abschied von Ikarus, Bildwelten in der DDR-neu gesehen, Neues Museum, Weimar, DE

Re.act.feminism, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, ES

Re.act.feminism, Tallinna Kunstihoone, Tallinn, EE

Re.act.feminism, Museet for Samtidskunst, Roskilde, DK

Re.act.feminism, Galerija Miroslav Kraljević, Zagreb, HR

Re.act.feminism, Instytut Sztuki Wyspa, Gdańsk, PL


Trashing Performance, Tate Modern, London, GB

Entdeckt! Rebellische Künstlerinnen in der DDR Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim, DE


PUZZLE: Die Sammlungsausstellung 2010, GfZK, Leipzig, DE


Subversive Praktiken. Kunst unter Bedingungen politischer Repression. 60er–80er / Südamerika / Europa, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, DE

Gender Check, mumok — Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna, AU

Ohne Uns! Kunst und alternative Kultur in Dresden — vor und nach ´89, Motorenhalle, Dresden, DE


Feind ist, wer anders denkt, Staatssicherheit, Hamburg, DE

Re.act.feminism, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, DE


Literarische Gegenwelten, Literaturhaus, Berlin, DE

In Zügelloser Sprache, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, Berlin, DE

Gefährliche Machwerke, Thüringer Landtag, Erfurt, DE


OstPunk! too much future, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, DE

Engel, Andreaskirche, Erfurt, DE


Engel, Winkelcentrum NOVA, Utrecht, DE


Lieber zu viel als zu wenig. Kunst, Musik, Aktionen zwischen Hedonismus und Nihilismus [1976–1985], nGbK, Berlin, DE

Göttinnen, Nieler Schule, Kranenburg, DE


Todesmaske von Engeln getragen, Kunsthaus, Erfurt, DE


Eros & Chaos, Galeria Alex 18, Düsseldorf, DE

Apokalyptische Visionen, Stadtbibliothek, Zeitz, DE


Innensichten: Kunst in Thüringen, Gera Art Collection (Kunstsammlung Gera), Gera, DE

Art is ego, Das Labyrinth, Erfurt, DE


Politeia. Deutsche Geschichte nach 1945 aus Frauensicht, Bonn Women’s Museum (Frauenmuseum), Bonn, DE

Boheme und Diktatur in der DDR, Historisches Museum, Berlin, DE

Deutschlandbilder: Kunst aus einem geteilten Land, Gropius Bau, Berlin, DE


12. Kunstmesse, Bonn Women’s Museum (Frauenmuseum), Bonn, DE


Unikum unikat, Kunsthaus, Erfurt, DE


Keramish Atelier, Utrecht, NL


Kunsthaus, Erfurt, DE


Atlantis — Irgendeine Vergangenheit, Galerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart, DE

Atlantis, Ballhaus im Nordpark, Düsseldorf, DE

Treibholz, Rathaus, Mainz, DE


Jojo Klubhaus, Berlin, DE

Jugendklub Apotheke, Chemnitz, DE

Literaturclub, Berlin, DE

La Vilette, Paris, FR


Galerie Nord, Leipzig, DE


St. Augustine’s Monastery, Erfurt, DE


Künstler Fotografieren, Fotografierte Künstler, Galerie Mitte, Dresden, DE