Monument of the Demand for Provenance Research and Restitution

Spatial intervention by Plattform Geschichtspoltitk (2010)

The intervention was carried out in November 2010 within the workshop “Educational Turn”, organized by schnittpunkt. ausstellungstheorie & praxis.

It started in the anteroom of two offices at the Academy. A massive antique table standing in the room was rumoured to have been aryanized. Due to the given state of knowledge, it could not be assessed whether that rumor was true or false. However, the fact that the Academy Rector’s Office was aware of the rumor and despite this did not initiate the appropriate investigation, turned the table into a symbol for the institution’s general refusal to do provenance research. The participants of the workshop, organized by Plattform Geschichtspolitik disassembled the table and stacked its components, barricading the entrance to the Rector’s Office. Along with a letter to the Rector and an application for the budget to establish a position for provenance research at the Academy, the construction formed the “Monument of the Demand for Provenance Research and Restitution.”

In January 2013 the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna employed a historian to be in charge of researching on the provenance of its library, its painting collection and its graphic collection. His task was to figure out if any of the objects in the possession of the Academy were Aryanized, meaning they were looted during the systematic dispossession of Jews and everyone classified as such by the Nazis. The former Rector of the institution, Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen, had for many years rejected the project of provenance research. Schmidt-Wulffen not only ignored persistent requests from the Plattform Geschichtspolitik but also the fact that the institution was legally obliged to carry out such research.