VIOLATED! Women in Holocaust and Genocide
A GROUNDBREAKING ART EXHIBIT BY REMEMBER THE WOMEN INSTITUTE
Remember the Women Institute’s art exhibition opening at the Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Gallery on April 12, 2018 and running for a month, includes the works of an international group of twenty-seven artists.
Systematic sexual violence in our time has been associated with war and genocide, with Bosnia, Cambodia, Congo, Darfur, Eritrea, Guatemala, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, and the Yezidi of Iraq as some of the most recent horrific examples. This exhibition presents artistic representations of and reactions to sexual violence during an earlier genocide, the Holocaust, as well as during most of these later genocides, as examples of what has happened to women throughout history.
While there is documentation and testimony, sexual violence during the Holocaust has for decades mostly been covered up, denied, or ignored. Artistic representation is one way to raise awareness about this heinous component of the Holocaust, as well as later genocides. Artists depicting the Holocaust include one survivor, as well as second and third generation descendants of survivors. American and Israeli artists of different generations range from the internationally famous such as Judy Chicago, Boris Lurie, and Nancy Spero to the less well-known, portraying sexual violence during the Holocaust in a variety of media and styles. As examples of the sexual violence that accompanied post-Holocaust genocidal upheavals, the exhibit also includes art about sexual violence during the genocides in most of the locations mentioned above. In these representations about later genocides, we see reflections of what happened to women during the Holocaust.
This trailblazing exhibition includes cutting-edge works on sexual violation by 27 American, Israeli, and other artists. They include (in alphabetical order): Ofri Akavia, Judy Chicago, Ayana Friedman, Regina José Galindo, Nechama Golan, Mitch Lewis, Shosh Kormosh, Judith Weinshall Liberman, Boris Lurie, Haim Maor, Naomi Markel, Anat Massad, Mary Mihelic, Dvora Morag, Nezhnie (Muriel Helfman), Racheli Roggel, Manasse Shingiro, Hana Shir, Nancy Spero, Linda Stein, Freddy Tsimba, Yocheved Weinfeld, Gil Yefman, Racheli Yosef, Safet Zec, Dvora Zelichov, and a Yezidi artist to be named. The accompanying catalog and wall text will provide background for the works of art, including artist statements about why they have dealt with this painful subject. An on-line virtual version of the exhibition (and lesson plan) is also planned. Educational events will be presented while the exhibition is being shown.
This exhibition grows out of the first book on the subject, Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust (Brandeis University Press, co-published by Remember the Women Institute, 2010). Exhibit academic advisor and project coordinator Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel co-edited the book with Dr. Sonja M. Hedgepeth. Curator is Dr. Batya Brutin, and Dr. Hedgepeth, Rebecca Pristoop, and Karen Shulman are on the exhibition team. There is also an Honorary Committee, which is helping the team. The exhibition and catalog are being funded by tax-deductible grants to Remember the Women Institute, our 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to integrating women’s stories into history. Through this art exhibition and the Institute’s related educational activities, we endeavor to make a more complete awareness of history and collective memory available for the education of today’s and future generations.
The earliest memoirs in the 1940s mentioned sexual violence during the Holocaust, but afterward the subject seemed to have almost disappeared. However, as proven in books, documentary films, interviews, and archived testimonies, various kinds of sexual violence were prevalent. These artworks commemorate and reflect upon this violence and serve to inform viewers about this missing part of history, encouraging empathy and shedding light on this heinous component of genocide. The exhibition reveals the past and confronts the present in order to include women’s stories in education for the future.
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The Remember the Women Institute, 2017
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