Exhibition opening: Stories Of Traumatic Pasts / Counter-Archives for Future Memories

8 October 2020 – 3 April 2021 at Weltmuseum Wien

About the exhibition

Belgian colonialism in Congo in the late nineteenth and twentieth century.
Austrian antisemitism in the twentieth century.
Turbonationalism in former Yugoslavia since the 1990s.

These three historic lines of violence and annihilation (re)enforced a process of oblivion that to this day prevents a processing of the genocides they caused. Today involuntary or performed amnesia again threatens to destroy what has already come to a point of possible coexistence. We go back to these traumatic events in history and the recent past, which had such a violent impact on communities and people, states and territories, and confront them with a system of interventions. The scars that remain after atrocities, although hidden and obliterated, are recovered through artistic, scientific, and political reflections.

The exhibition takes a critical look at three European regions, their histories, and their current experiences of collective amnesia in relation to traumatic pasts. The positions shown are interventions aimed at the present and the future and form counter-narratives against forgetting.

The exhibition Stories of Traumatic Pasts: Counter-Archives for Future Memories focuses on three European regions, their stories, and their current experiences of collective amnesia in relation to traumatic events from the past: Belgian colonial rule in the Congo, Austria after the “Anschluss” in 1938, and the denial of war crimes since 1990 after the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Stories of Traumatic Pasts is the result of the FWF research project (AR 439) Genealogy of Amnesia at the Academy of Fine Arts.

Participating artists

Elisabeth Bakambamba Tambwe

Lana Čmajčanin and Adela Jušić

Bojan Djordjev and Siniša Ilić

Dani Gal

Martin Krenn

Monique Mbeka Phoba

Anja Salomonowitz

Joëlle Sambi Nzeba and Nicolas Pommier

Arye Wachsmuth

Valerie Wolf Gang

Posters and works developed by students of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna



Weltmuseum Wien
Heldenplatz, 1010 Vienna

Daily except Wednesday
10 am to 6 pm