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S-C-H-A-N-D-E: An Intervention

By Yiddishland Pavilion

Published Oct 14, 2022

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Collection

This Curation is part of Combating Antisemitism.

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SCHANDE / DISGRACE

On October 5, 2020, an artistic intervention was carried out at the monument to Vienna’s antisemitic mayor Karl Lueger. Golden letters were applied to the monument: SCHANDE – marking the monument as what it is: a DISGRACE. The letters were casted of concrete and painted in gold. They resemble the shape of graffiti which had been put on the monument’s plinth in the beginning of July 2020 by unknown authors. A group of artists consisting of Anna Witt, Simon Nagy, Gin Müller, Mischa Guttmann and Eduard Freudmann, started a Schandwache – a “vigil of disgrace” – in front of the monument. The Schandwache was carried out in collaboration with 15 cultural and political organizations. Activists of the organizations were standing guard for one week to protect the graffiti from being removed by the city authorities. The initiative demanded that the monument be artistically reconfigured or removed. Until the reconfiguration or the removal is carried out, the graffiti must remain. The action took place in the week before Vienna’s local elections. Four hours after the opening of the artistic intervention a group of neo-fascists appeared at the monument to knock off the golden letters. However, there was plenty of support by civil society and political organizations as well as wide media coverage. As a result of the Schandwache, the graffiti remained on the monument until this day. In December 2021, Vienna’s City Secretary for Culture officially announced that the monument will be artistically reconfigured in autumn 2023. 

Memorializing the Intervention

For their spatial installation, the artist group searches for a possibility to archive the graffiti permanently. The reconstructed pedestal fragments with the application “disgrace” do not negotiate the question of what should happen to the statue, but rather rehearse the possibilities of preserving the existing artistic intervention. The artwork under protection is not the memorial itself, but the intervention. The video shows the course of the different sections of the Schandwache and discusses a legal and restorative perspective on these interventions. 

S-C-H-A-N-D-E: An Intervention

THE YIDDISHLAND PAVILION is a hybrid online-offline project aimed at tracing and developing Yiddish and Jewish discourse in contemporary artistic practice. Its activities unfold in Venice, Italy and online between April and November 2022. At the 59th Venice Biennale, Yiddishland Pavilion takes place in a dialogue and collaboration with national pavilions of countries with histories of Yiddish-speaking Jewish migration. Yiddishland is an imaginary country/land/space/territory connected through Yiddish language and culture. Yiddishland Pavilion analyzes the erosion of global political constellations, practices collective remembrance, condemns war and occupation, and documents consequences of migration and politics of exclusion that target “Otherness”. 

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The Yiddishland Pavilion is a hybrid project aimed at tracing and developing Yiddish and Jewish discourse in contemporary artistic practice.

Reflections

Reflecting on Iconoclasm 

How should we treat monuments to historical figures with documented histories of antisemitism?  

Making Connections 

What about other monuments, such as those erected to honor Confederate generals in the US? 

Artivism 

What are other examples of Jewish activist counter-monuments in contemporary art? 

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