The Sydney Jewish Museum interviewed Anne Zahalka about her The Fate of Things: Memory Objects and Art exhibition showing from 2 November 2018 – 14 March 2019, alongside Sylvia Griffin’s work. Anne shares vicarious traumas, her inherited memories of the Holocaust and how she reconciles her mother’s memories with her life in Australia today, and how her art practice is a medium for conveying this process and her identity.
The works in this exhibition refer to transgenerational (or postmemory) trauma – recalling stories and histories shared through family stories, but not directly experienced. They reflect the artists’ own reactions and stories stemming from this heritage and their attempts to emotionally reconnect with lost family members, particularly their female predecessors.
In The Fate of Things: Memory Objects and Art, two Australian-born artists, Anne Zahalka and Sylvia Griffin, remember their families’ Holocaust experiences through inherited objects, remnants and relics. For this exhibition, the artists undertook a process of self-discovery by imbuing tangible symbols of their family histories with personal interpretations of their second-hand traumatic memories. Through video, photography, assemblage, sculpture and textiles, the artists memorialised lost family members never met, particularly female predecessors, to trace who they are today and how their characters have been formed over time.