Postcard
2015 | Post card contents: 2 first day covers, USA, Nov. 23, 1943 | 2 official postage stamps commemorating 100 years of agrarian reform, Mexico, 1966 | 2 Zapatista propaganda “postage” stamps, Mexico, 1995

Postcard for Vienna Festwochen.

Postcard project for Vienna Festwochen 2015: Hotel Metropole. Der Erinnerung eine Zukunft geben [Hotel Metropole. Giving Memory a Future]

The postcard is concerned with actual events and their official historical interpretation (the construction of myths and master narratives and the appropriation of icons and counter-narratives) in the Austrian context of Morzinplatz/Hotel Metropole (Second World War) and its wider implications and connections.

Using a special issue USA stamp (first day cover) the work confronts the assertion that Austria was the first victim of Nazi aggression linking it with Mexico, the only country to lodge a protest with the League of Nations when Austria ceased to be a state in its own right. At the time Mexico was suffering from an embargo imposed by the Netherlands, Great Britain and the USA for nationalising its oil industry and, despite the fact the country was forced to deal with Hitler and the axis powers to sell its agricultural produce, it could claim credentials as a socially-concerned state, having implemented the ejido system of communally-owned land tenure. Thus the governing party (PRI) ‘inherited’ the iconic figure of Emiliano Zapata who, more than any other during the Revolution, represented the interests of the landless and the small farmers. Over the years stamps and currency bore his image until the last decade of the twentieth century when the Zapatistas (re)claimed sovereignty over both the issues and the iconic figure from a central government intent on divesting local communities of their land and rights –commodifying the land – in order to conform to the requirements of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Zapata quickly disappeared from official representation but reappeared in the form of ‘counter-stamps’ used by the Zapatistas to publicize their position.

This simple act of resistance and counter-presence is intended to raise questions about the Austrian context during Nazi governance and in the immediate post-war period when the Allied- supported mythology was cemented into place. It was to hold sway for the coming for the coming half century and inhibit full disclosure and an examination of Austria’s collusion with the Nazi ideology.

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