SIX NIGHTS IN IGNAZ GÜNTHER HAUS
QUINTAN ANA WIKSWO
Where are the erotics, the romanticization, the illicit sexuality that runs just between racism and appreciation? Attraction and repulsion, in the nether worlds of fascination. In what sites do we see something underneath, running underneath, half-illicit and unacknowledged? Often in geopolitical sites of conflict, where the ideal body has waged total war against the “problematic” body, in post-genocidal cultures. As aftermath women, we invoke not the blonde white icons of movie posters or beauty pageants, but stacks of dead sticks of dark, naked, skeletal, enslaved, raped, murdered, prone, immobilized, subjectified women’s bodies.
Sexuality between survivor and perpetrator in the post-genocidal society is a collision of conflicts and conundrums, whether you like to look at “them” or you look like “them.” What do those bodies look like when they are desubjectified? How would it feel to admit to a desire to re-contain it, to restrain it? Who can be the one to liberate it? Celebrate it? Collect it? What does it offer, or prevent. Allow or deny. Accuse or excuse, forgive, take in. Where are its familiar pains. Its very unfamiliar pleasures. Who wants to know, and why.
A project commissioned by the German government’s Jewish Museum Munich, this performance surrounds German erotic fascination with the Jewish female body: the women of Klimt, of Egon Schiele. I was asked to explore the other side, the antidote: the presence of our bodies, alive.
I went into Bavarian beer gardens, ateliers and saunas interviewing men who self-identified as Nazi descendants: “I like Jewish women, they are uninhibited,” “they are ugly and hairy but erotic,” “my father said he killed many Jewish women, and I want to have sex with a Jewess so that I can apologize,” “they are sexy, yet doomed,” and “there are a few of you left, but only a few. Mostly in New York.”
In three public performances at the State Museum, two performers offered con/textualized glimpses of our own Jewish female bodies to a German male audience, repeating and projecting back to them their own statements and beliefs which must suddenly be acknowledged in a public setting.
What is it like to live in a dinosaur body? The body of a type of person who has been largely destroyed? See: a few remain, as though in a zoo. And now you file your children past our cage at the zoo and everybody stares and points and wants to touch.