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VIOLATED! Women in Holocaust and Genocide
A group art exhibition and accompanying catalog with background essays
Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Gallery
31 Mercer Street, SoHo, New York City
April 12-May 12, 2018

Two artworks done inside Nazi concentration camps can be viewed at VIOLATED! Women in Holocaust and Genocide, Remember the Women Institute’s international art exhibition opening at the Ronald Feldman Gallery, 31 Mercer Street, SoHo, New York City, on Thursday evening, 6 PM, April 12, 2018, and running for a month. These two small drawings, created in secret, were borrowed from the Ghetto Fighters’ House, Israel.

 Target Body

Naomi Markel, Target Body, 1995. Tar, glass, paint, and rubber on canvas, 39 x 27.5 in (100 x 70 cm) each part, three parts. Collection of the artist, Israel.

The exhibition includes Judy Chicago and Donald Woodman’s Double Jeopardy (half-scale) from their Holocaust Project: From Darkness into Light, as well as two works each by Holocaust survivor artist Boris Lurie and feminist artist Nancy Spero. Joining these internationally known names, there are artists from Israel, the United States, and other countries, including victims, their close relatives, witnesses, and concerned others. All of these important artworks on sexual violence during the Holocaust and later genocides are the artists’ poignant reactions to what women suffered. The representations about later genocides and ethnic cleansings in Bosnia, Darfur, Eritrea, Guatemala, Iraq, Nigeria, and Rwanda echo the horrors that some women experienced during the Holocaust.

This trailblazing exhibition includes 47 cutting-edge works on sexual violation by 30 American, Israeli, and other artists. They include (in alphabetical order): Rostan Agala, Ofri Akavia, Judy Chicago, Ayana Friedman, Regina José Galindo, Nechama Golan, Mitch Lewis, Shosh Kormosh, Judith Weinshall Liberman, Ella Liebermann-Shiber, Boris Lurie, Haim Maor, Naomi Markel, Anat Massad, Mary Mihelic, Dvora Morag, Nezhnie (Muriel Helfman), Halina Olomucki, Zeev Porath (Wilhelm Ochs), Rachel Roggel, Manasse Shingiro, Hana Shir, Li Shir, Nancy Spero, Linda Stein, Yocheved Weinfeld, Gil Yefman, Racheli Yosef, Safet Zec, and Dvora Zelichov.

The accompanying catalog and wall text 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 are also planned. Educational events will be presented while the exhibition is being shown.

 Daesh Molested the Girls

Rostam Aghala, Daesh Molested the Girls (Yezidi Girls), 2015. Oil on canvas, 67 x 78.5 in (170 x 200 cm). Collection of the artist, Iraq, and Phantastische Bibliothek, Wetzlar, Germany.

At a time when powerful men's sexual abuse of less powerful women is making daily headlines, this exhibition offers artistic representations of sexual violence with a much greater ratio of power to powerlessness--during the Holocaust and some later genocides. There were no conditions for a #MeToo movement for Holocaust survivors, and despite advances in technology and feminist ideology, this situation has not changed significantly for the victims of later genocides. The women were often murdered, and survivors were frequently silenced by their own unwarranted sense of shame. Those who spoke out were sometimes discouraged.

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 four survivors, as well as second and third generation descendants of survivors, artists living outside of Europe at the time of the Holocaust, and others; artists portraying later genocides include survivors, witnesses, and others.

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. The artists' representations cry out on behalf of the victims who were silenced or chose to be silent, and viewers are encouraged to use their own voices to let the messages of these artworks reverberate.

Dr. Batya Brutin is exhibition curator and Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel is exhibition coordinator, with Rebecca Pristoop, Dr. Sonja Hedgepeth, and Karen Shulman on the exhibition team. There is also an Honorary Committee, as well as institutional partners. This exhibition grows out of the first book on the subject, Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust (ed. Hedgepeth and Saidel, Brandeis University Press, co-published by Remember the Women Institute, 2010).

Violated! opening

Speaking at the April 12, 2018 opening of the VIOLATED! Women in Holocaust and Genocide exhibition are (left to right): Amb. Mordehai Amihai-Bivas, Consul for Culture in North America, Israel Consulate, New York; Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, Founder and Director of Remember the Women Institute and exhibition coordinator; Dr. Batya Brutin, exhibition curator; Consolee Nishimwe, author and a survivor of the Rwanda genocide; Ayana Friedman, one of the 30 artists exhibited; Ronald Feldman, galley owner; and Lorna Husein, representing the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. In the background (left to right) are works by Hana Shir, an Israeli second generation artist; Manasse Shingiro, a survivor of the Rwanda genocide; and Safet Zec, a survivor of the Bosnia genocide. Photo by Jeff Segall

Exhibition Honorary Committee
Dr. Constance Chen, Dr. Susan Chevlowe, Elissa Cohen, Joan Dean, Dr. Eva Fogelman, Marisa Fox-Bevilacqua, Patti Kenner, Hon. Carolyn B. Maloney, Mindy Mangot, Jessica Neuwirth, Consolee Nishimwe, Hon. Amy R. Paulin, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Dr. Julie Ratner, Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Hon. Linda B. Rosenthal, Sheri Sandler, Shiri Sandler, Rachel Lulov Segall, Lorraine Sheinberg, Gloria Steinem, Marcy Syms, Diane Von Furstenberg, Jenny Warburg, Lynda Weinman.

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. We are indebted to The Schaina and Josephina Lurje Memorial Foundation, The Phyllis Backer Foundation, and The Five Millers Family Foundation, which provided major fiscal backing, as well as to many other donors who are recognized in the catalog.

For a virtual tour of the exhibition watch this video of VIOLATED! by Jeff F. Segall.

"Art exhibit explores global violence against women during genocide" (Women's Media Center / May 8, 2018)
"Healing through artwork: Crochet by African migrants and trauma victims on display in NYC exhibit" (Religion News Service-RNS / May 2, 2018)
"The 54 Galleries to See Right Now in New York" (The New York Times / April 26, 2018)
"10 Galleries to Visit Now Around SoHo and TriBeCa" (The New York Times / April 26, 2018)
"Can We Talk About Rape in the Holocaust Yet?" (Forward / April 25, 2018)
"The Art of Calling Attention to Genocide" (New York Jewish Week / April 25, 2018)
"Groundbreaking exhibition depicts sexual violence against women in the Holocaust" (Times of Israel / April 13, 2018)
"Trailblazing Exhibition to Open at SoHo Art Gallery" (The Jewish Voice / March 28, 2018)
Ronald Feldman Gallery press release (March 15, 2018, PDF 19K)
"#MeToo and the Holocaust," by Rochelle G. Saidel (Hadassah magazine / March 2018)
"My People Were Refugees, Too" (Times of Israel / February 21, 2018)
"Violated! Women in Holocaust and Genocide" (NY Blueprint, the Urban Jewish Event Guide)

Closing reception and guided tour (Thursday, May 10, 2018)
Matinee of theater readings (Sunday, April 15, 2018)
Kenner benefit reception
Preview at Haifa Museum of Art

Exhibition Institutional Partners

Violated! Partners

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