The image of Jewish women and men is shaped by misunderstandings in large sections of the majority society. Whether it concerns the exaggeration of the “Jewish sense of family,” “Jewish learning,” a clichéd notion of “Jewish life,” or the sadness inherent in anything “Jewish,” all of this is based on misconceptions that later translate into prejudice and express stereotypical images.
The exhibition 100 misunderstandings about and among Jews traces these misunderstandings, searches for the backgrounds, questions and parodies them or meets them with a tongue-in-cheek laugh. The exhibition is not about dispelling prejudices against Jews, but about asking about the underlying misconceptions and countering them on different levels – from the historical to the artistic.
Just how topical these are was shown not only by the demonstrations against the measures to combat the corona pandemic, but also repeatedly in debates on the culture of remembrance. Vaccination opponents appropriated a Jewish victim narrative, while those moved by the culture of remembrance attached an aura of mourning or romanticized idealization to everything that was actually or only supposedly Jewish. Some misunderstandings are old and some first emerged after the Shoah.
Jewish museums have also contributed in the past and present to reinforcing misconceptions and stereotypical images about Jewish women and men. The exhibition takes a critical look at the museum’s own work and asks about the misunderstandings that underlie it.
Misunderstandings do not emanate from the majority society alone but are based on perceptions among Jews as well. A felt obligation to inner-Jewish solidarity or the idea of an all-Jewish history lead to self-images and images of others that often do not stand up to critical scrutiny.
Curators: Team Jewish Museum Vienna
Exhibition design: polar÷ margot fürtsch-loos | siegfried loos