Welcome to the Web extension of the Body Missing project, an inquiry begun in Toronto and Linz, 1994 and continuing, into the Kunstraub (art theft) policies of the Third Reich, the proposed Führermuseum, and the fate of artworks missing after World War II.
Structured here as an arena for future work, the site features preliminary investigations by artists and writers Thomas Büsch, Joanna Jones, Alice Mansell, Mickey Meads, Bernie Miller, Piotr Nathan, Daniel Olson, Jeanne Randolph, Michel Daigneault, and Stephen Schofield, Judith Schwarz, Betty Spackman and Anja Westerfrölke. Among the regulars at the Transit Bar, they're seen from time to time entering the discussions that still take place there on the curious relation of art and politics.
A particular focus of these conversations has been the Sonderauftrag(Special Assignment) Linz,Hitler's little-publicized but systematic plan to acquire art works by any means, including theft and forced sale, for the proposed Führermuseum in Linz, his boyhood home town.
Shipped from all over Europe to the salt mines at nearby Altaussee, the bulk of the collection was stored in conditions of perfect archival temperature and humidity, until found by the Allies after the war: cave after cave of paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings destined for the vast museum that was never built.
In the bar the talk continues:
About fetishistic art collecting fever and war trophies; about the shifting ground between seeming disappearance of a work and outright loss; about the possibility of reinventing, through a kind of cultural memory and fellow-feeling, a connection that opens to an earlier artist and an absent work.
Here are the beginnings, by some of the artists involved, of an investigation, as if in conversation with the past -- whether in the form of an interrogation, a concrete poem, a personal history, studio re-enactment, or fiction. Their pages will continue to change, and other contributions will be posted later as the site develops.
For now, the six major areas of the Body Missing prototype: Artists, Bartenders, Beyond, Piano Players, Sources, and Video, are accessible through the Transit Bar imagemaps, and from several points of access after that. Parts of a handwritten site map appear at intervals, and mailers for viewers' comments, but it's perhaps best to get lost and then find your way again.
Toronto, September 1995