Installation of Memory, by Nancy Spero
In a career spanning over fifty years, Nancy Spero has been one of the most influential visual artists of the modern era: precise and confrontational, strong but undemonstrative. From the 1970s onwards, her drawings, collages, and room and wall installations consisted almost exclusively of portrayals of women and offered an ambivalent narrative alternative to traditional linear constructions.
Nancy Spero’s association with the Jewish Museum Vienna dates back to 1995. In 1995–96 she designed the permanent "Installation of Remembrance" ("Remembrance/Renewal") in the museum auditorium, which focuses on three major themes that play an important role in commemoration: religion, the social and cultural role of Viennese Jews before National Socialism, and the cataclysms in Viennese Jewish history.
Spero, whose own Jewish identity was influenced to a large extent by the Holocaust, sought to revive discussion about the history of the Jews in Vienna through individual images and new visual constellations. She took various images and texts from Austrian Jewish history and stamped them on the wall: a medieval matzo bakery, Gustav Mahler conducting, or the Leopoldstadt Temple, which was destroyed by the Nazis. The religious objects chosen by her for the fresco-like fragments of memory reference the real objects in the Berger collection of Judaica that can be seen in the museum’s main hall at Dorotheergasse 11. The installation can be seen from all floors and highlights the fundamental principle of the Jewish Museum Vienna: remembrance.
Spero died on the 18th of October 2009 at the age of 83 in New York. The Jewish Museum Vienna is proud to have been associated with this great artist and retains an admiring and fond memory of the collaboration with her.