The VBKÖ was founded in 1910. It was one of the first organizations in Europe to represent the artistic and economic interests of women artists; and to help women artists to participate in exhibitions, educations, and discussions. Twenty-eight years later, in 1938, the association decided to meet the requirements of the National Socialist regime, to expel its Jewish members, and to align its program with the ideologies of the regime.
A working group of the still active VBKÖ, the Secretariat for Ghosts, Archive Politics and Gaps, which was founded in 2012, works with the archive of the association alongside events, documents, and gaps. It attempts a long, fragmentary cut through the his/herstory/ies of the VBKÖ in order to show contradictions and continuities.
Here, ghosts of national socialist ideologies encounter ghosts of colonial fantasies, and share the scene with old and new ghosts of feminist agency. The archival materials are haunted, exposed, and associated. The ghosts appear in places, images and objects; for example in a group photo, a farewell letter, or a travel journal.
Hauntings in the Archive! attempts to face different ghosts, to walk with them, to remember them, or to contradict them. To learn to live with ghosts.
About the Secretariat for Ghosts, Archival Politics and Gaps
The Sekretariat für Geister, Archivpolitiken und Lücken (Secretariat for Ghosts, Archival Politics and Gaps) is a working group of the Vereinigung Bildender Künstlerinnen Österreichs (Austrian Association of Women artists, VBKÖ). It was founded by Nina Hoechtl and Julia Wieger in 2012 to incorporate a critical examination of the VBKÖ’s archive and her/history/ies within the association. Through lecture-performances, workshops, texts, and a film they discuss the role of the VBKÖ during the course of Austrofascism and National Socialism, alongside the association’s class-specific and colonial entanglements.
Hauntings in the Archive! reflects on and exposes the his/herstory/ies of the Austrian Association of Women Artists (VBKÖ) through its century-old archive of letters, photos, catalogs, and thousands of other documents. The Secretariat for Ghosts, Archive Politics and Gaps curates the material to conjure up the specters of the multiple lives of the VBKÖ that meet and share the scene in the film: Ghosts of national socialism encounter colonial fantasies, and old and new feminist agencies.