A video as part of the Call the Witness Roma Pavillion.
01.-03.06.2011, Palazzo Zorzi UNESCO Venice Office Castello 4930, Venice.
The work VERMÄCHTNIS. LEGACY (2010–2011) is devoted to artist Ceija Stojka and her offspring. Stojka is a Roma woman painter, musician, and writer from Austria, one of the few living survivors of the Nazi Holocaust who lived through all horrors of internment in the concentration camps Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and Ravensbrück and who experienced the most severe consequences of racism even after the end of the Second World War. The main issue that Schmiedt explores in the work is very similar to a question asked by philosopher Giorgio Agamben: What is the juridical structure that allowed such events to take place?” In pursuit of an answer to this question, the artist interviewed different generations of Stojka’s female descendents who constantly face the need to renegotiate the past as they live with her silent “testimonials” of those who cannot testify. Such fragmented oral micro-histories may, of course, significantly differ from macro-historic documents. While fighting historical amnesia, these testimonials warn us both of racism’s eternal return and of the aporia of the “proxy witness”: the survivors’ testimony as “a potentiality that becomes actual through an impotentiality of speech […] an impossibility that gives itself existence through a possibility of speaking” (Agamben). (Suzana Milevska)