A Voice Silenced – 05.24.2004

May 24, 2004

BERKELEY – The Judah L. Magnes Museum is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition, A Voice Silenced, curated and organized by Diane Neumaier. The exhibit, co-sponsored by  The Holocaust Center of Northern California, will be on display in the museum’s Reutlinger Gallery from May 24 – September 19, 2004. 

Diane Neumaier, a conceptual artist and photographer, collaborated with her father John (Hans) Neumaier to reprint negatives of family snapshots taken by John when he was a teenager in Frankfurt, Germany, in the 1930s. The photographs resurrect the life of a middle-class Jewish-German family and, particularly, the public and domestic life of Diane’s grandmother, Leonore Schwarz Neumaier, the first contralto of the Frankfurt Opera, who was murdered in a Nazi death camp in Poland in 1942. The exhibition is dedicated to Leonore Schwarz Neumaier. 

Leonore and her husband Otto Neumaier gave a new Leica camera to their son John in anticipation of celebrating his Bar Mitzvah in 1934. When he escaped Germany in 1939, he took his photo albums, negatives and camera with him. In the 1980s, John Neumaier gave the negatives to his daughter who reprinted the 16 rolls of slowly decomposing 35mm nitrate films for A Voice Silenced. The exhibition also includes studio portraits and stage memorabilia of Leonore Neumaier, who packed these articles in a trunk in 1941, believing she would be reunited with her husband and son. 

This moving and original project is a collaboration between second and third generation of survivors that combines historical materials with a contemporary visual reframing of the Holocaust memory. Neumaier says, “Photography can bear historical witness and offers access to other times and places. Through its authenticity, photography can convey information, prompt memory and stimulate imagination. While in most cases my aim as an artist appropriating and manipulating family photographs was to be as faithful to the original images as possible, in some experimental works I also sought to express my feelings about the loss of the grandmother I never knew.” 

Diane Neumaier is an artist whose conceptually based photography is exhibited and collected internationally. She is Professor of Art at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. Her publications include Beyond Memory (Rutgers University Press, 2004), Reframings: New American Feminist Photographies (Temple University Press, 1996), and Cultures in Contention (Real Come Press, 1985). 

In conjunction with the exhibition, the 2004 Roselyn Yellin Memorial Lecture on Jewish Art & Literature will be held at the museum Sunday May 23rd from 2-4pm followed by a book signing and reception. The lecture, Art, Memory, Survival, will bring together an artist, a poet and a writer to discuss the role of art and literature in the experience of second and third generation Holocaust survivors. Participants will include: 

  • Diane Neumaier, Curator, A Voice Silenced
  • Cynthia Brody, Editor, Bittersweet Legacy: Creative Responses to the Holocaust (University Press of America and Judah L. Magnes Museumm 2001)
  • Elizabeth Rosner, Author, The Speed of Light(Ballantine Books 2001
  • Moderator: Alla Efimova, Curator, Judah L. Magnes Museum

The public is invited to attend; free with museum admission.

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