Kyselka: "Exterra XX" (2006 / 2008). image copyright Verena Kyselka
Verena Kyselka (GDR, Germany *1957)
Because she wasn’t allowed to study, Verena Kyselka trained to become a church restorer in Erfurt in the late 1980s instead. During this time, she also created paintings, music and performances. After the GDR collapsed, she began working with installations and new media, moving to Weimar then Geneva to study art. She co-founded the Kunsthaus Erfurt in 1990. In the last few years, Kyselka’s art has increasingly focused on issues of recent history and its effects on identity, topics she has explored in several intercultural projects in countries such as Albania, Armenia, Taiwan and Australia.
"Exterra XX", of which Kyselka was a member, was a feminist performance group that lasted several years and emerged from the alternative art scene in the GDR in the early 1980s. In defiance of everyday life under socialism, the group lent individual dreams provocative artistic forms that were combinations of poetry, sounds, clothing, painting and movement. In the beginning, the actions were held in private homes or were shown as super 8 films. Showings were sometimes prohibited, but as the GDR fell apart, performances became more and more frequent. Exterra XX’s performances touched on politically explosive themes relating to the collapse of the GDR and the ensuing search for a new identity, new values and a new direction. The group consisted primarily of Verena Kyselka, Monika Andres, Tely Büchner, Gabriele Göbel, Ina Heiner, Angelika Hummel, Birgit Quehl and Gabriele Stötzer. It disbanded in 1994.
Kyselka brought Exterra XX’s dynamic energy back to life in a video installation based on performance documentation and her own memory. The installation, which consists of older VHS footage, is a new and virtual re-enactment of a performance.
Verena Kyselka: "Exterra XX" (2006 / 2008) in the exhibition. Photograph: Andreas Süß