Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Research in Media and Culture (BIRMAC), in collaboration with the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, as part of the Contested Histories, Challenging Memories initiative. 

Tuesday 11 June 2019 | Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD | 13:00-20:30 

The archival image communicates across different regimes: the static of the photograph, the movement of the audio-visual, and more recently the immersive of augmented reality. In each case, the historical image is deemed to hold the power to change public perception and lead to a deeper understanding of the past.

Performativity of Images in Public Spaces proposes a critical reflection predicated on the impact images from the Holocaust archive have had in the public domain. How are archival images depicting racial hatred and violence framed or staged in public spaces, why and by whom? What is their social and educational value? This event invites scholars, artists and museum professionals working with archival images in public spaces to think about the power of the image, of contexts, and to consider the impact staged archival images have on audiences.

Workshop : Performativity of Images in Public Spaces

Keynes Library | 13:00-17:00

This workshop brings together scholars, artists, museum professionals and the public to reflect on the challenges and power of presenting difficult and unsettling archival images in the public realm. What is the impact of using images which depict discrimination, racial hatred or genocidal violence? Why and how should such images be framed or staged in the public space? What is their social and educational value? Should the dissemination of archival content become the responsibility of educational and archival institutions alone? How can artistic practice challenge viewers to think critically about what is shown and how it is shown.

13:00-13:10       Welcome and opening comments (with the organisers)

13:10-14:30       Panel 1, with James Bulging (curator and Content Leader Holocaust Galleries, Imperial War Museums) and Rachel Donnelly (Holocaust Learning Manager, Imperial War Museums) and Dr Lisa Peschel (Lecturer in Theatre, Film and Television, University of York)

14.30-15.00  afternoon tea break

15:00-16:30      Panel 2, with Ruth Beckermann (Filmmaker, Vienna) and Prof. Maiken Umbach (Professor of Modern History, University of Nottingham)

16:30-17:00     Concluding remarks (with the organisers)

This workshop is free, but booking is required. Available here

Screening, in conversation with Ruth Beckermann

18:00-20:30 | Birkbeck Cinema

ScreeningThe Waldheim Waltz (Ruth Beckermann, 2018. Austrian. 93mins), introduced by Diana Popescu (Pears Institute)

This a film about truth and lies or “alternative facts”. Ruth Beckermann documents the process of uncovering former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim’s wartime past. It shows the swift succession of new allegations by the World Jewish Congress during his Austrian presidential campaign, the denial by the Austrian political class, and the the outbreak of antisemitism and patriotism, which finally led to his election. Created from international archive material and footage Beckermann shot at the time, the film analyses the collapse of the Austrian grand illusion: “having been the first victim of the Nazis”. Narrated by Beckermann, The Waldheim Waltz sets the Waldheim affair in a bigger international political context, and 30 years on, it is dauntingly timely.

Following the screening, Ruth Beckermann will be in conversation with Prof. Laura Mulvey, Birkbeck, University of London, chair by Janet McCabe

Ruth Beckermann is an Austrian writer and filmmaker. Her award-winning films include Paper Bridge (1987), Jenseits des Krises (East of War, 1996) and Die Geträumten/Dreamed Ones (2016). The Waldheim Waltz won the Glashütte-Original Documentary Award at the Berlin International Film Festival.

This event has been organised by Dr. Diana Popescu (Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism), in collaboration with BIRMAC Co-Directors, Dr. Janet McCabe (FMACS) and Dr. Silke Arnold-de Simine (FMACS)