The thematic lines of the exhibition, object histories and life-stories of people dispossessed by the Nazis and of their descendants are taken up by international artists and reflected in installations, photo and video pieces. The significance that restitution has for the heirs is linked with questions of cultural identity, history policy, individual recollection and the collective memory. At the same time, 14 art projects informed by the restitution cases represented in the show reflects subjects such as the Nazi bureaucracy of robbery, collection and family histories, and the present-day awareness of restitution.
In a show entitled “RECOLLECTING”, the UNLIMITED Association, in
cooperation with the MAK, presents art and everyday objects from Jewish
possession and their history between robbery and restitution. Especially for
the exhibition, new artworks were created which put this issue of controversial
topicality in a present-day perspective.
The thematic lines of the exhibition, object histories and life-stories of people dispossessed by the Nazis and of their descendants are taken up by inter- national artists and reflected in installations, photo and video pieces. The significance that restitution has for the heirs is linked with questions of cultural identity, history policy, individual recollection and the collective memory. Restituted objects may have individual biographical relevance and contribute to reactivating the family memory. Robbed art objects become “crystallization points of collective identity and individual history,” says Ingo Zechner (head of the Holocaust Victims’ Information and Support Center of the Vienna Jewish Community).
The show also casts light on exemplary aspects of the Nazi bureaucracy and its continuities in the Austrian restitution policy after 1945 as well as an on the present-day practice of provenance research and active search for heirs as is currently being conduced by a number of Austrian museums and institutions. The exhibition features both restituted objects and pieces whose rightful owners are still being searched. The about 100 loans come from private possession in Austria, Great Britain, Switzerland, and the USA as well as from museums and institutions in Austria and abroad and comprise pieces from former collections of paintings and porcelain, but also everyday items such as furniture, books, photographs, and even a car.
Confiscation and restitution processes in connection with the exhibits will be traced in terms of selected correspondences, inventory lists, official papers and documents and other materials. The historical documentation will be complemented with the personal dimension of restitution through conversation quotes and video interviews with descendants.
At the same time, 14 art projects informed by the restitution cases represented in the show will reflect subjects such as the Nazi bureaucracy of robbery, collection and family histories, and the present-day awareness of restitution. Artists participating: Carola Dertnig, Ines Doujak, Arnold Dreyblatt, Maria Eichhorn, Vera Frenkel, Rainer Ganahl, Klub Zwei, Michaela Melián, Christian Philipp Müller, Lisl Ponger, Silke Schatz, Till Velten, Arye Wachsmuth/Sophie Lillie.
The MAK particularly qualifies as the venue of this exhibition since even before the Art Restitution Act was passed in 1998 the museum actively addressed the problem of unrightfully acquired and inventoried items in its collections and their restitution. Moreover, the MAK also hosted the 1996 “Mauerbach Benefit Sale” organized by the London-based auction house Christie’s on behalf of the Federal Association of Jewish Communities of Austria, and thus the museum took a clear political stance early on.
The MAK homepage (http://www.MAK.at/sammlung/f_provenienz1.htm) gives a survey of collection items restituted to their rightful owners to date, including prominent examples such as the Bloch-Bauer porcelain collection or the Rothschild furniture collection. Some of the pieces already restituted by the MAK will be on view one more time in the “RECOLLECTING” exhibition. An exhibition catalogue with contributions by Aleida Assmann, Constantin Goschler, Anja Heuss, Jacques Rancière, Harald Welzer, Ruth Wodak, several Austria provenance researchers and others is currently being prepared to be published by Passagen Verlag, Vienna.
The exhibition is supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Art, and Culture, by the Science and Research Promotion Fund of the Vienna Municipal Department for Cultural Affairs, by the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism, and by the Future Fund of the Republic of Austria.
Image: Ines Doujak, Adé, Adele!, 2008, Collage © Ines Doujak
Stubenring 5, A-1010 Vienna
Opening Hours: Tue MAK NITE 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Wed–Sun 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., Mon closed
Admission: € 9.90 with MAK Guide / € 7.90 / reduced € 5.50
Free Admission on Saturdays