In her work, multimedia artist Vera Frenkel (born in 1938) has explored the experience and problematic of forced migration, exile, and diaspora. Despite her European background, she was raised in North America, where everyday practice and moral commitment differ from that in Europe. Her works revolve around the representability of memory and history, the abuse of political power and the consequences that result. From a palimpsest of memories, rumors, absences, and a “testimony in the absence of witnesses,” she constructs a discourse of historiography that, in contrast to scholarship, is beyond facticity and composition, and overlays historical image with other images. One of her most famous works, Body Missing, a video installation and web presence, deals with the Nazis’ “Special Mission Linz,” the “Führer Museum” that had been planned for Linz and the fate of the artworks that were assembled for it. Linking historical details and documentary material, Frenkel approaches the unexplained location of these works within a fictional framing narrative around a bar.
Her works have been exhibited at Documenta IX and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1985), Setagaya Museum, Tokyo (1995), OK, Linz (1996), MoMA (1999), and the Venice Biennale (1997 and 2001).