Numbers. Beate Passow
March 16 to September 4, 2005
After the successful presentation of Ceija Stojka’s pictures the Jewish Museum Vienna shows a selection of works by the German photo artist Beate Passow at the Museum Judenplatz. “I have the Auschwitz number tattooed on my left forearm … When I tell myself and the world I am Jewish, I mean the realities and possibilities that the Auschwitz number represents”. This is how Jean Améry summarized the inedible effect that Nazi torture and Auschwitz had on this future existence. The total number of people exterminated in the Auschwitz complex is put at 1.1 to 1.5 million. More than 400,000 inmates were originally classified on arrival as capable of work and were given a tattooed number. Only 65,000 escaped the extermination machine. In the mid-1990 Beate Passow visited survivors with her camera to create the documentary photo series “Numbers”, which unambiguously demonstrates the horrors of imprisonment in Auschwitz.
In the scope of this project Beate Passow took photos of the tattooed forearms of persons who were imprisoned in the former concentration camp of Auschwitz. The counted persons are nameless. Today, they live in different European countries or in Israel. These persons have grown old. But they have survived and communicate with us through their mere existence. Their tattooed forearms tell us what happened to them: the Nazis have reduced them to countable material; they have wandered through life with these marks on their arms. Beate Passow’s landscape format photos show nothing but the forearms with the tattooed number clearly visible. By lining up these 40 pictures the common denominator of this dehumanization becomes apparent: Even more than the Star of David these numbers stand for coercion, oppression, mechanization and convey the unbelievable.
Curator: Reinhard Geir
Now He’s Upset, this Tennenbaum. The 2nd Republic and Its Jews
April 20 to July 4, 2005
The exhibition “Now he’s upset, this Tennenbaum. The Second Republic and its Jews” is the Jewish Museum’s contribution to the 60th anniversary of the Republic of Austria. This critical inventory is not meant to be a simple accumulation of scientific facts, but shall draw the attention to the sore points and provoke the kind of discussion that has been absent or deficient in the past.
Now he’s Upset, this Tennenbaum is a quotation from Helmut Qualtinger’s and Carl Merz’ “Der Herr Karl” (Mr. Karl), a satirical one-man play that reveals the Austrian petit bourgeois as a perpetual opportunist. Tennenbaum, who has returned after 1945, holds a grudge against Herr Karl for the “pranks” he played on him in March 1938 and does not return his greetings. Herr Karl’s reaction clearly displays the specifically Austrian self-image after 1945, which is the subject of the exhibition “Now He’s Upset, this Tennenbaum. The 2nd Republic and Its Jews”. This is not only about individual narrow-mindedness and a basic anti-Semitic attitude in Austrian society, but also about decades of ideological dishonesty on the part of the political parties, lack of historical awareness or deliberate suppression of history as well as linguistic inconsistencies and ambiguities.
Especially in Austria’s socio-political environment of today this lack of awareness becomes apparent time and again. However, this is not an original invention of the current Austrian coalition government. Not even the blatant agitation against members of the Jewish Community is an innovation of the FPÖ (Austrian Freedom Party). One has only to dip into history’s pocket to produce some “time-tested” stereotypes, which just have to be wrapped in fashionable clothes. Xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and concurrent hatred of Communists have never been the monopoly of the political Conservative, but have been put to political use by Liberals and Socialists alike. The present political and atmospheric situation is in the fore only insofar as it emphasizes to the extreme, where party power politics, ideological hypocrisy, and suppression or even decade-long distortion of history can lead to. It provides quasi an “ideal” case study on the consequences of the fact that a substantial portion of the new political, economic, scientific, and cultural elites after 1945 was recruited from the old elites.
Curators: Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, Gerhard Milchram, Nico Wahl
Burekas or Quarter Chicken? The Jewish Way to Marry
May 5 to July 10, 2005
At a wedding celebration in Israel the guests are often asked to choose between burekas (stuffed turnovers) or a quarter chicken. Marriage represents a continuation of the divine creation. The celebration of a wedding is so important that scholars are even enjoined to break off their study of the Torah in order to join the bridal couple (Talmud, Kethuboth, 17a). Kiddushin is the Hebrew name for the betrothal ceremony. Men and women are not complete until they live together as “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). A man who has no wife lives without joy, without blessing and without goodness (Talmud, Yebamoth 62b).
The various wedding traditions are interwoven with popular beliefs for which a religious legitimation has often been found. A Venetian veil in the exhibition is used to “cover” the bride, a custom that probably arose to ward off the evil eye and to fool demons into thinking that the bride was in mourning. A similar ritual existed for the bridegroom, who would sprinkle ashes on his head as if in mourning.
The most obvious example of the belief in evil spirits, however, is the breaking of the glass. After the marriage contract, or ketubah, has been read out, the bridegroom stamps on a glass. The original ceremony in which a vessel containing wine was thrown against a “chuppah stone” served two functions: the evil spirits were offered a sacrificial drink, and it was also hoped that the noise would drive them away. The custom was modified on account of the emphatic opposition by the rabbinical authorities to the making of an offering to evil spirits – the idea of scaring them off, however, was apparently less sensitive. In the sixteenth century a new interpretation of the breaking of the glass was suggested and it became a symbol of mourning for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
A Jewish marriage is not legal without a ketubah. The illustrated versions are particularly interesting. They came into their own in the sixteenth century when it became customary to read out the contract publicly during the marriage ceremony. Despite repeated attempts to prohibit illustrations, the design of these marriage contracts became more and more imaginative – parallel to the Christian custom of giving pictures at a wedding. The ketuboth from Italy in particular show the close connection between Christian and Jewish art at the time.
The exhibition at the Jewish Museum Vienna features a number of customs and interesting ritual objects, items and documents on the subject of marriage, which are usually not on display at Palais Eskeles.
Curator: Evi Fuks
A Time to Build. Jewish Identity in Contemporary Architecture
July 13 to September 4, 2005
The exhibition “A Time to Build. Jewish Identity in Contemporary Architecture” reviews architectural projects for Jewish facilities around the world at the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century, including designs and buildings that have attracted international attention by architects such as Frank O. Gehry, Moshe Safdie, Mario Botta, Daniel Libeskind and Adolf Krischanitz. The exhibition will focus on museums, synagogues, community centres and schools in Europe, Israel and the USA. Models, sketches and photographs will help visitors to trace a Jewish identity in modern architecture.
Special attention is paid to two projects in Vienna in the last few years: the refurbishing of the Jewish Museum and the construction of the Museum Judenplatz. The Jewish Museum also presents drawings, photos and texts produced by pupils of the Lauder Chabad school in Vienna, which was designed by Adolf Krischanitz. These documents shall help to show the wide spectrum of possibilities to perceive and use architecture: school parties, favourite spots and the relationship with the building itself; those are the subjects treated by the pupils.
The chronology of the most important historical buildings – from the Temple in Jerusalem to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC – gives an idea of the sources that have inspired architects. Designing for Jewish institutions also means building on the Jewish identity. Reasons for this connection can be sought not only in Jewish culture and religion but also in the ruptures in Jewish history. The tension between continuity on the one hand and reawakening on the other, and the ever-present recollection of the extinction of Jewish culture and life through the Holocaust are both reflected in architecture.
Curators: Angeli Sachs, Edward van Voolen
Elias Canetti (1905 - 1994) – Taking the Century by the Throat
July 24 to September 25, 2005
The 100th anniversary of the birth of Elias Canetti on 25 July 2005 gives the Jewish Museum Vienna a welcome opportunity to review the life and works of this former Austrian writer and Nobel Prize winner. For half of his life he was relatively unknown. After writing his first novel Die Blendung (“Auto da Fe”) and the play Hochzeit (“Wedding”), he concentrated almost exclusively on his major ethnographical and psychological study Masse und Macht (“Crowds and Power”), which was largely ignored when it first came out in 1960. It was not until the third German-language version of Die Blendung was published by Hanser Verlag in Munich in 1963, the premiere of Hochzeit in 1965 in Braunschweig, where it caused a scandal, and his three-volume autobiography (Die gerettete Zunge [“The Tongue Set Free”] 1977; Die Fackel im Ohr [“The Torch in my Ear”] 1982; Das Augenspiel [“The Play of the Eyes”] 1985) that he became known to a wider public. His fame grew thereafter and in 1981 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
For all his talent for establishing personal relations, however, Canetti remained a stubborn and contradictory loner. His work was at odds with the literary trends of the twentieth century. He donated his estate to the Central Library in Zurich. Since 2002 researchers have had access to the literary items in this estate (drafts, alternative versions, sketches) but not to his diaries and private correspondence, which are out of bounds until 2024. The 100th anniversary of Canetti’s birth has given rise to a travelling exhibition, which is now coming to Vienna, where he spent one of the most incisive periods in his life. It was designed by Sven Hanuschek for Strauhof Zürich in collaboration with the Central Library in Zurich. The Jewish Museum Vienna is presenting the documentation in cooperation with the Austrian National Library.
Curator: Sven Hanuschek
That easy it was – growing up Jewish in Austria, Switzerland and Germany after 1945
September 13, 2005 to February 19, 2006
The Jewish Museum is presenting an exhibition at its Judenplatz site as a further contribution to events marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Entitled “That easy it was – growing up Jewish in Austria, Switzerland and Germany after 1945”, it was conceived by Hanno Loewy from the Jewish Museum Hohenems and has already been shown there and in other locations in Germany. As the title suggests, it deals with the problems of growing up Jewish in Austria, Switzerland and Germany after the Holocaust or arriving there as a refugee, immigrant or child of a survivor.
The exhibition presents photos and a brief description of the childhood and youth of various individuals: writers and business people, journalists, intellectuals and artists, homemakers, young and old, religious and non-religious, well known or obscure. It presents their everyday experiences, moments of happiness, alienation and identification, and insights into Jewish life after 1945. On the whole this documentation provides a succinct and conflicting panorama of Jewish existence in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. The exhibition features 43 audio stations with the childhood recollections of 43 Jews in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, including well known authors such as Wladimir Kaminer, Vladimir Vertlib, Hazel Rosenstrauch, Doron Rabinovici, Ruth Beckermann, Michael Brenner and Richard Chaim Schneider as well as unknown individuals with interesting stories to tell.
Curator: Hanno Loewy
Mahleriana – the Making of an Icon
September 21, 2005 to January 8, 2006
In this exhibition the Jewish Museum Vienna will be paying tribute to the work of a research institution that has been instrumental in ensuring that Mahler receives international recognition and public acknowledgement commensurate with his achievements. The International Gustav Mahler Society (IGMG) was founded 50 years ago at a time when the anti-Semitism of the first half of the twentieth century was still rife and Mahler’s work was not readily accepted or understood. The Society fought for the recognition and public performance of Mahler’s music and published a Critical Edition of the Complete Works to this end. In spite of considerable difficulties, it managed to rescue Mahler’s three composing huts on the Attersee and Wörthersee and in South Tyrol and to turn them into public memorials. Today the IGMG is the leading research centre in the world devoted to the life and work of Gustav Mahler.
The exhibition “Mahleriana – the Making of an Icon” at the Jewish Museum not only documents the IGMG’s commitment to Mahler’s music but also highlights the most important events in the composer’s life with the aid of selected and in most cases hitherto unseen documents from the Society’s archives. An audio guide will enable visitors to hear Mahler’s music and to listen to contributions from members of his family. Mahler’s status today as an icon is illustrated not only by the appreciation by renowned sculptors such as Anton Hanak or Fritz Wotruba but also by the busts created by Auguste Rodin, whose studies in plaster and terracotta and the marble bust Mozart, Portrait of Gustav Mahler are being shown for the first time in Vienna.
Curator: Reinold Kubik, Erich Wolfgang Partsch
Vienna, California. Eric Zeisl’s Musical Exile in Hollywood
November 30, 2005 to May 1, 2006
After documentations on Hans Gál and Egon Wellesz, and on Franz Schreker , which were presented in the scope of the “Revolution in Music“ series, the Jewish Museum Vienna will be showing a comprehensive exhibition on Erich Zeisl, who has largely been forgotten today. Erich Zeisl, who changed his name to Eric Zeisl after his emigration to the US, died on 18 February 1959 in Hollywood at the age of 53. During his life he described the film metropolis as “a blue, sunny grave”. The Viennese musician is the subject of an exhibition devoted to the life of Austrian music exiles in the US sunshine state. Zeisl’s address books, which play an important role in the exhibition and which contain names such as Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Ernst Krenek, Hanns Eisler and Arnold Schönberg, read like an invitation list for his wife Gertrud’s salon. They point the way through a network of acquaintanceships established in an effort to recreate a Central European feeling in the middle of Hollywood.
Eric Zeisl was born on 18 May 1905 in Vienna as the son of coffeehouse owners in Leopoldstadt, Vienna’s 2nd district. Against the wish of his family he received music training from Richard Stöhr, first at the Vienna Academy of Music and then, as he showed extraordinary talent, in private lessons. Among his teachers were also Hugo Kauder, who was quite progressive, and the rather conservative Joseph Marx. During the interwar years he worked as a private music teacher (piano, theory) and freelance composer in Vienna. Although his compositions were banned from performance after the National Socialists seized power in 1933 in Germany and then, after the Annexation 1938 in Austria, and which put an end to his artistic career, Eric Zeisl emigrated only in 1938 after the November pogrom. His first destination was Paris, followed by the US 10 months later, where he was in close contact to other emigrés in California (Kurt Herbert Adler, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Hanns Eisler, Lion Feuchtwanger, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alma Mahler-Werfel, Igor Strawinsky, Alexandre Tansman, Ernst Toch, among others) and wrote film music for Hollywood.
His Viennese music is a synthesis of the late Romantic tradition and a moderate modernist sensibility. It provides a contrast to Schönberg’s Second Viennese School and is typical of the young composers who remained in Vienna during the 1920s instead of moving to Berlin. The music composed in exile, by contrast, is characterized by an “inner return” to Judaism. In this break with the former tradition Zeisl found his own personal style. The most touching testimony of this is his Requiem ebraico (1944/45), which is dedicated to the memory of his father (and stepmother), murdered during the holocaust, and of the “innumerable victims of the Jewish tragedy in Europe”. Zeisl’s music, which has recently found its way back to the concert repertoire, is a worthwhile discovery.
In 1938 Eric Zeisl packed his belongings in a container with a view to sending them as far away from Vienna as possible. He chose Los Angeles as their destination. Three years later, attracted by an offer from Hollywood, he arrived himself in the film metropolis. Like many others, however, he found that the film industry was not to his liking. The exhibition plies a path through the emigré network, from film studios to universities and colleges, where he held lectures. Its subject is also the Jewish Planet Hollywood, where the artistic hopes of emigrés from Central Europe came up against the business ethic of the film pioneers and studio bosses, many of whom were immigrants from Eastern Europe.
Curators: Michael Haas, Karin Wagner, Werner Hanak