We are very sad about the passing of Helga Pollak-Kinsky (1930–2020) with whom we had the privilege to collaborate through our project KISS. We stay inspired by the remarkable trust she had in people, despite everything she went through. The strength of Helga Pollak-Kinsky to share the stories of Nazi prosecution will not be forgotten.
Location and duration: Three large-format posters in the inner courtyard of Museumsquartier, 1070 Vienna, July 2 until August 9, 2020. The entire nine-part series was published as an artist’s insert in Augustin, no. 509 (July 1, 2020).
The diverse practice of Johanna Tinzl (b. Innsbruck in 1976, lives and works in Vienna), which employs a variety of mediums, is based on a sensitive and often collaborative examination of particular histories, which she connects to collective memories and to politically driven processes of representation. By doing so, she makes visible the infiltration of the political into every body and into everyday life. Using both fictional and documentary approaches and embracing polyphony, her work constantly rereads and contradicts monolithic fabrications of history.
For KISS, Johanna Tinzl presents in the main courtyard of Museumsquartier a triptych that excerpts three photographs from a series of nine realized in 2016. The work portrays Holocaust survivor Helga Pollak-Kinsky in three Viennese places: The steps leading to her daughter’s coach’s office. The elementary school where she used to go as a young girl before she had to flee the country. The façade of her husband’s former working place.
For the series, the ninety-year-old Helga Pollak-Kinsky chose nine locations in her hometown of Vienna that were meaningful to her, both before her flight from the country in 1938 and after her return in 1957. Together with the artist, she returned to these chosen places and performed reencounter rituals. Inspired by VALIE EXPORT’s photographic series Body Configurations (1972–1976) – which reclaims presence and representation for the female body in urban public space and in society at large – Helga Pollak-Kinsky renegotiated her relation to her “own” places as a woman and as a survivor, to overcome estrangement and fear. She dove into her memories, translated strong feelings into gestures, and adapted her body to her surroundings – caring for herself and for the sites simultaneously. The figure of Helga Pollak-Kinsky standing, living, and laughing embodies aging as “being-in-the-world” and not as the abject and invisible solitude that capitalism, especially in times of pandemic crisis, has made it out to be.