Marika Schmiedt’s Exhibition at Construction Site in Linz, Austria – Posters Ripped Down, the Artist Threatened and Attacked at Opening by Outraged Hungarian Nationalist and her Austrian Husband
via Jasmina Tumbas
Marika Schmiedt, one of the most politically engaged Roma activist artists in Austria (and Europe), has been censored, threatened, and attacked for her politically controversial artworks, which expose and critique various forms of racism, nationalism and fascism in Europe. By linking the history of the persecution and killings of Roma and Sinti to the current forms of systematic and violent discrimination and murder of Roma and Sinti in Europe and worldwide, Schmiedt’s work has hit a nerve in the neo-fascist atmosphere of European politics, enraging nationalists from various countries, as well as politicians, intellectuals, and activists who find her work too confrontational.
On Sunday, April 14, 2013, at the opening of Marika Schmiedt’s exhibition, “Thoughts are free”, a Hungarian nationalist and her Austrian husband attacked Schmiedt, tore her cell phone out of her hands, and began to tear down her posters on the construction site fence. One of the organizers of the exhibition and Schmiedt stopped the attack. The Hungarian woman called Schmiedt a racist and threatened to sue the artist for her purported defamation of the Hungarian nation.
Those of us, who read daily about Hungary’s outrageous violations of human rights, censorship of the media and the cultural sector, welcome Schmiedt’s poignant and loud critique of these political developments. Since the EU continually fails to address the rampant hatred of Roma, anti-Semitism and homophobia in Hungary, Schmiedt’s work bears witness to these developments and offers resistance against complicity and capitulation of civil courage.
Such artistic interventions raise many enemies. The 30 posters were all torn down within two days, leaving only traces of her exhibition. It remains to be seen who was responsible for tearing down all the posters. But one thing is certain: Schmiedt does not shy away from – and does not fear – confrontation; she incites it. As she has said:
“My work attempts to break this silence and expose the visual culture of racism – and its many languages – and simultaneously counteract the continuing discrimination.”
Images from the exhibition (taken from: http://www.hofkabinett.at/cms/index.php mact=News%2Ccntnt01%2Cdetail%2C0&cntnt01articleid=3&cntnt01origid=15&cntnt01returnid=70 ):
At the opening:
After 2 Days:
After 2 Days and 3 Hours:
FILMS by Marika Schmiedt
About Marika Schmiedt
Born in 1966 in Traun, Upper Austria, activist, filmmaker and visual artist. Since 1999 – present: Research with survivors (witnesses) of the persecution of Roma and Sinti (including the Holocaust and the present). Her artistic work focuses on addressing the situation of ethnic Roma before and after 1945. Academic lecturer in youth and adult education.