Blog: Smashing Times Artistic Director Mary Moynihan Speaks About the Austrian Art Project ‘Writing Against Forgetting’

Published On 27 June, 2018 | Latest News

Photo: Felix Stent, Writing Against Forgetting Production Manager

As Artistic Director of Smashing Times, I was delighted to be invited to speak and present on the work of Smashing Times and the Drama for Change project at the recent Austrian EPALE and Erasmus+ symposium that took place at the Magdas hotel, Vienna on 21 June 2018. The symposium was organised by the Austrian e-Platform for Adult Education (EPALE) and Erasmus + Adult Education.

While in Vienna for the EPALE symposium, I witnessed the powerful and moving work of artist Margaret Rabow, creator of the project ‘Writing Against Forgetting – 66,000 names recall the murdered Austrian Jews’.

The project runs from June 21 to 28, 2018, as artists and members of the public write the names of the 66,000 victims of the Shoah in Austria. The names of the Austrian people murdered under the Nazi regime will be written in an art action taking place on the Prater Hauptallee, with the names written in white school chalk. The result is a movie titled 66,000.

As I was walking along the Prater Hauptallee, a large mainly pedestrian road running through a beautiful park in the Prater area of Vienna, I saw names written on the road in white lettering, thousands of them stretching into the distance. There were people on their knees here and there, citizens of Vienna and other countries writing out names and participating in this extraordinary art action to remember the 66,000 Austrian people murdered by the Nazi regime during WWII.

According to the project website, over 500 people have signed up to write. ‘The writing of names takes time, strength and concentration‘, with participants signing up for a minimum of one and up to three or more hours. As the names are written they are then photographed and filmed for later documentation. The project uses chalk to write the names because‚‘ the word written in chalk on the street is as fleeting as the course of history. After completing the action, the names stop, are washed away by the rain or fade in the sun. They dissolve. What’s left is the movie‘.  

As I watched it seemed as if time had stood still as we witnessed the writing of the names of men, women and children that stretched out the length of this enormous avenue, a silent testimony to evoke the horror of what happened and to remember. According to the project website, the film arising from the art action, titled 66,000, premieres on 9 November, 2018 at the Metro Kino Kulturhaus, the 80th anniversary of the pogrom of 1938.

For further information on this unique project please visit its web page. The above information and quotes are from the project website, and a special thanks to Felix Stent for information on the project.

Mary Moynihan,

Artistic Director,

Smashing Times Theatre and Film Company,

Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Human Rights,

June 2018

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