Witch’s Kitchen Archive Part 3: What They Said She Said

This is a compilation of things that Valeska Gert said.

Gert wrote four memoirs totaling 631 pages. These autobiographies tell the stories of her life’s work, exiles, and encounters. She also published letters and editorials in the papers, and was interviewed on television, radio, and film.

This collective culling of Gert’s defining utterances creates a portrait—one that embodies what the critics, historians, and fans want us (readers) to see. The bulk of the collection comes from her memoirs, but the attributions indicate the texts where the quotes were found. (Gert’s quoted descriptions of specific dances, her poems, and performance scripts are excluded from this list.)

Conducting the research for Witch’s Kitchen over the course of a year was limited: confined to my laptop and the internet, as archives and research libraries were both closed.

While not always entirely factual, Valeska’s words express Valeska’s truth—one of her signature characteristics. Her early Weimar dances are heralded (and despised) by critics and audiences for their deep “truthfulness,” and it is this same type of bold, bald honesty that permeates the memoirs…from what I can gather. (My truth: I can’t read German, and none of the memoirs have been translated in full. Thus, at this point, my access to the memoirs is limited to these bits and blabs translated and re-purposed by others, alongside the garbles I can get out of Google Translate.)

Despite that, this list of 73 quotes is a thrilling glimpse of Valeska Gert. Through the repetition, her most iconic utterances are revealed. In their variation, the subjective nature of translation is demonstrated. The list also illustrates the inherent incompleteness of research—both mine and theirs.

—Shana Lutker

About the Artist

Shana Lutker
Shana Lutker is a Los Angeles-based artist. Shaped by the archives of psychoanalysis and surrealism, her interdisciplinary work in sculpture, performance, writing, and installation foregrounds an unstable relationship between subjects, memory, and history. Recent exhibitions include Current LA:FOOD, the LA public art triennial; Virginia Woolf: an exhibition inspired by her...
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Witch‘s Kitchen was made possible through the generous support of the Active Cultures Board of Directors; Founders Circle members Mehran and Laila Taslimi; and the Wilhelm Family Foundation.

Event Details

DATE: June 26, 2021



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