CLEANING TIME (VIENNA)
Original format : color vidéo / 4:3
Single Channel Digital Video
10 min 36 sec
As a child, growing up in Johannesburg, I had heard from my grandparents that Jews in Vienna during the time of the Holocaust had been forced to clean the streets with toothbrushes.
Invited to Vienna by the Austrian Jewish Theatre for the first International Festival of Jewish Theatre, I found I could verify that : The annexation of Austria by Hitler in March 1938 was a catastrophe for Austrian Jews. They were forced by the fanatical mob to wash streets and pavements with toothbrushes, and in no other city in nazi germany, was anti-semtitism accompanied by such sadistic acts (Jewish Vienna, Mandelbaum). I have not discovered any images but there are many witnessed accounts in the literature and on the internet.
On Wed 21st March 2007, between 1 :40 and 2 :30pm I cleaned the pavements and streets of the Heldenplatz with a giant toothbrush. For me, the stones of this central square of Vienna still resonate with their tainted history of 300 000 Viennese welcoming Hitler in March 1938 S at the very same time
that the Viennese Jews were subjected to the first acts of humiliation and persecution that would end in their extermination. The results of the intervention were varied, S at times noisy crowds S at times a bizarre
frozen solitude when I seemed to be the only person alive in the world.
I am taking the risk of asking if it is possible to look with self-critical irony at the atrocity of genocide, if originality and humour and beauty have any place in reviewing the horror of death and annihilation.
For me, this work with its distortion of proportion, is a true commemoration and not a trivialisation at no personal risk, but for no personal profit, I make this work with pure respect and in loving memory of those who lost everything in the holocaust. The danger is not in the way we remember as much as in the way we forget.
© Marianne Greber
STEVEN COHEN COMPANY
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