It will take decades to parse the repercussions of contemporary political decisions, but analogous moments in history already exist. Examples of racism and intolerance, tightened borders, deportations, mass incarceration and a general lack of empathy are easy to find in the United States’ past—and in other, more sinister, regimes.
And we know the effects of this trauma; it lasts for generations.
At the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Bay Area-born, London-based artist Daria Martin delves into her own family’s history to tell stories of anxiety, analysis and artistic inspiration, all stemming from her ancestors’ 1938 flight from Brno. Drawing five distinct narratives from her grandmother Susi Stiassni’s dream journals—more than 20,000 pages written over 37 years for the purpose of Jungian psychoanalysis—Martin creates an installation suspended in time, but rooted in place.
That place, Villa Stiassni, is her grandmother’s childhood home. The Gestapo seized the modernist villa after the family fled; today, it is a Czech heritage site. Through film, architectural installation and digital reconstruction, Tonight the World reclaims Villa Stiassni as a site of personal significance, a place to which Susi only ever returned in her dreams.
Casting women of different ages to “play” her grandmother (all clad in wonderfully varied magenta outfits), Martin filmed extrapolations of five dreams at the actual villa in Brno. These short sequences create some structure and a bit of loopy logic out of Susi’s often-brief dream entries, but they remain eerie and tinged with danger.