Inaugural Exhibition “Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt: Collages and Editions”

The National Gallery of Arts is pleased to invite you to the inaugural e exhibition “Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt: Collages and Editions”, curated by Sven Spieker and designed by Johanna Meyer-Grohbruegge.

Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt is a German artist mainly associated with visual poetry and mail art. After working as a painter, in the early 1970s she turned to the typewriter as her main instrument for art production. She used two different models of the GDR typewriter Erika (later a ballpoint model) to turn its standardized characters into dynamic waves, flows of signs, and poetic textures composed of commas, exclamation marks, and letters. Among her typed architectural images we often find towers and cages: Wolf-Rehfeldt did not conceal the fact that she felt constrained by the regime of strict surveillance in which she lived. Yet by turning herself into a typist—a stereotypically female job—she not only managed to determine the content of her pages, she also found poetry where others could not see it. In 1981, after a serious traffic accident, she produced her first collages by merging her typewritings with pieces torn from newspapers or b/w reproductions of her own earlier paintings.

Wolf-Rehfeldt produced her typewriter works in multiple copies using carbon paper, and she used the facilities of the Association of Artists to print up to fifty copies more– the maximum allowed in the former GDR. Many of these pages circulated in the international mail art network in which both Ruth and her husband Robert participated with great energy and enthusiasm. Their studio on Mendelstrasse, in East Berlin’s Pankow district, was a hub of international mail art activity—until 1989: after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Wolf-Rehfeldt decided to halt her output of typewritings. There was no need for them anymore, she explained.