Marika Schmiedt, VERMÄCHTNIS. LEGACY, 2010–2011, video, color, sound, 42 min., courtesy the artist
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)
MARIKA SCHMIEDT (born 1966) is an artist, filmmaker, freelance researcher for the ethnic community of Roma and Sinti, and an academic lecturer. Both her research and video works examine the history and traumatic legacy the National Socialist Holocaust of the Austrian Roma and Sinti, exploring the difficulties of dealing with the loss of family members and the impact of these losses on the second and third generations of European Roma. Recent works include: Visible (2009); and Eine Lästige Gesellschaft [An Undesirable Society] (2001). Schmiedt lives and works in Vienna.