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Bricolage as resistance: The lyrical, visual and performance art of Gabriele Stoetzer

Beret L Norman, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation investigates the influence of GDR writer Gabriele (Kachold) Stötzer's visual and performance art on the texts published in her 1992 volume of experimental prose, grenzen los fremd gehen. Born in 1954, Stötzer is loosely associated with the experimental writers of the Prenzlauer Berg “Szene.” In the 1980s in Erfurt, she established the Künstlerinnengruppe, a performance group that focused on self-expression in the private spaces of apartments and self-made studios—painting, posing for photographs, creating amateur films, weaving, making pottery, and sewing clothes. I maintain that this coalition of women fashioned an indirect defiance to the GDR State by operating in arenas the Stasi did not conceive as political. As well, I argue that the techniques of bricolage—the spontaneous use of materials at hand—she devised to express that defiance that are employed in the group's visual art performances, are also central to Stötzer's textual production. Stötzer tosses together sentences built upon consonant and vowel sounds that play on meanings; she rejects the steps of revising and editing; and she uses “materials at hand”—especially the body. She uses those techniques to represent her wrenching experience of incarceration at the age of twenty-four and her ongoing discontent with the GDR. Stötzer eschews any optimistic view of the intact individual within socialism and reveals instead in her writing an exasperated figure that lacks crucial freedoms. In Chapter One I outline the prescribed tenets of socialist realism and their implementation in GDR practice and how Stötzer's texts resist them. In Chapters Two and Three I trace Stötzer's biography and her artistic production—especially with the Künstlerinnengruppe, showing how her art has always been informed by elements of bricolage. In Chapter Four I provide analyses of eight texts from grenzen los fremd gehen, particularly emphasizing their relationship to her visual and performance art. I conclude my dissertation by arguing that Stötzer's creative potential was catalyzed in very particular ways by the circumstances that reigned in the waning days of the GDR, so that her more recent post-Wende texts no longer display the experimental qualities that brought her acclaim before 1989.

Subject Area

Germanic literature|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Norman, Beret L, "Bricolage as resistance: The lyrical, visual and performance art of Gabriele Stoetzer" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3152732.