Welcome to The Vienna Project newsletter
If you are receiving this newsletter for the first time, you may want to visit the project web site www.theviennaproject.org to first gain an overview of the project.
Greetings and Happy 5775!
This newsletter will be about the closing program for The Vienna Project. The Vienna Project was conceived as a durational performance of memory taking place on the streets of Vienna. The fleeting and participatory nature of the memorial project conveys an anti-authoritarian approach to memory. The Vienna Project presents memory as a series of 38 researched memory sites, art installations, performance art productions, oral history interviews, guided tours, public readings of archival letters and social media networking sites that engage the public in a variety of conversations about memory. Our Closing Ceremony and Naming Memorial represent the culminating events for The Vienna Project.
The unexpected loss of Barbara Prammer, President of the Austrian National Council (2006-2014), also named Chief Patron of The Vienna Project, led to a delay in program confirmations.
We are now ready to inform you about our incredible closing program. We have an exceptional group of speakers, including Margit Fischer. The Vienna Philharmonic musicians will play contemporary music pertinent to the period. The projectâ€™s â€œMemory Mapâ€ will be on display, and family members will read letters and writing from victims of National Socialism. Please download our invitation in German (designed by graphic Desiree Heusl) and our program in English.
The Closing Ceremony consolidates the full reach of the memorial project. The culminating event, the â€œNaming Memorial,â€ represents the projectâ€™s central thesis about memory tied to ideas about inclusion and differentiation.
The Closing Ceremony will be streamed live to the project web site. We will also provide a link for institutions that would like to broadcast the closing program at your site. Please contact me if you would like the link at firstname.lastname@example.org
Archival letters written by Austrian victims and survivors of National Socialism were solicited from 353 organizations and individuals in sixteen countries and twelve US states! We have received letters representing Jews, Roma, homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses and dissident groups from Austria, the US, the UK, Israel, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa! The letters are being transcribed and translated, organized and distributed to 38 Austrian teachers and university students.
In order to accomplish this enormous undertaking, I needed to assemble an international team of 15 professionals, students and volunteers. The team includes: Sonja Danner, Marianne Windsperger, Peter Mlczoch, Margret Vince, Britian Smith, Barbara Merson, Lex Thompson, Veronika Bezinsky, Mara Haas, Kate Melchior, Katherine Bleth, Tamar Segev, Margo Landl, Johanna Taufner, and Adam Rashkoff.
We have 18 teachers signed up and are pursuing 20 more teachers and university students to organize readings. If you are a teacher interested in the marathon, contact Sonja Danner.
Starting in October, each teacher will receive 10 folders, containing 10 letters. Each folder will hold: a cover sheet of information about one letter, a Xerox image of the archival letter, a transcription of the text and a translation of the letter into German or English. The 10 folders will represent 10 letters from multiple victim groups. Each teacher will be assigned a memory site for reading letters with students. The intention is to fill the streets for one hour with a chorus of memory.
Additional support will come to teachers through our smartphone app and web site. Teachers will be able to access new Holocaust curricula, uploaded to our app and website to help prepare students for the readings.
New Holocaust Curricula
Kate Melchior completed a series of lesson plans for our Smartphone app. The lesson plans are based on the Guided Tour program linked to the 38 Memory Sites that Kate designed and delivered late last spring. The lessons can be downloaded from the website and smartphone app, anywhere on the globe, enabling teachers and students to take virtual tours of the projectâ€™s 38 memory sites.
The lesson plans provide educational scaffolding for the â€œReading Marathonâ€ project, Teachers will gain researched knowledge about the history of National Socialism in the territory of Austria, between 1938-1945. The lessons address the history and persecution of multiple victim groups under National Socialism. Kate has also prepared a number of worksheets that prompt discussions about the relationship between history and memory, provoking students to think deeply about this period of history.
We continue to offer walking excursions to the 38 Memory Sites. Outdoor Seminars can be booked with the projectâ€™s historian, Dr. JÃ©rÃ´me Segal. Visitors to Vienna, school groups, or other traveling groups can book a walking seminar. The seminars can also be individualized to correspond to particular interests.
An early design for the â€œNaming Memorialâ€ began as early as 2009. The â€œNaming Memorialâ€ has evolved over five years and represents the Directorâ€™s personal scholarship about how art, history, design, and activism can interact on a wall to convey fresh ideas about memory.
The memorial was reinvented a number of times, moving from graffiti art, to video projections, and now to digital slide projections. The memorial also changed locations, moving from the Danube Canal to the Flaktower, and now to Josefsplatz. Under the direction of Karen Frostig, the memorial has maintained a commitment to represent multiple, persecuted, Austrian victim groups in an inclusive and differentiated display of the names. The original idea of the memorial project centered on the notion that art and design, such as font, character styles, and a non-linear arrangement of the names could be employed to create a non-hierarchical presentation of the names. Blending artistic invention with historic rigor the memorial could solve a number of problems that had previously prevented historians from grouping the names together.
The â€œNaming Memorialâ€ represents a complex set of ideas that personify the primary values of The Vienna Project. Elisabeth Wildling, an outstanding Austrian video artist teaching at the University of Applied Arts, joined the project team in 2012 to work with Karen in developing a design for the memorial project. Using a variety of visual tools, Elisabeth has surpassed expectations by creating a design that fulfills the conceptual criteria provided by Karen, in defining the memorial project.
Witnessing the â€œNaming Memorialâ€ in Josefspatz will only happen once. Donâ€™t miss it!
Archival letter readings will occur in three sequences during the projectâ€™s closing program. Four individuals will read four letters during the Closing Ceremony. At 21:30 two readers, Philipp Reichel and Maxi Neuwirth, actors and historians, will read letters out loud at Josefsplatz, while people meander about, looking at the walls covered with the names of murdered victims. At 21:45, a third group of readers will form inside the library. This group will be comprised primarily of family members reading letters. Guests will move in and out of the different spaces, gazing, listening, and reflecting upon the past, as the letters are read in these different locations.