Monday, April 6, 2015

Recognition and Restitution

Today is my day off work, but I'm going in because management is making me Employee of the Month, which means I get a certificate and a free lunch...

I suppose it's nice to be recognized, but it's a sop, of course. 
I don't want a free lunch, I want help developing and implementing the "Best Practices in Memory Care" the place advertises.

After six months of educating myself, I seem to know as much about best practices as m/any of the staff; being able to actually practice them is another matter: more and more people are being moved in but no more staff is being hired to help them.

I don't know... I've rather lost touch with myself in this work, feeling overwhelmed by so many stupid and greedy decisions. The work itself is good, but it's getting harder to DO it. 
Leading fifteen people with dementia in an art activity? 

More and more I am reduced to offering Cruise Boat entertainment, leading sing-alongs, or else I must choose out a few residents to do something more meaningful (say, helping them do something for other people) and ignore the others.
Let's see. What else?

Yesterday I came across yet another fascinating article on the publisher's proposed topic, so I e-mailed them to say I've changed my mind and would like to write the book after all.
It may be too late---they may have assigned it to someone else.

I would like to sink my teeth into a good research and writing project. I also want to leave myself open whatever art-making at my job show me, as I realized last month... but I'm so frustrated with the world of health care, I think I'd do well to distract myself.

I also suggested the publisher might consider a book on Art Restitution, which seems to be a hot topic these days. 

(Lots of articles in the  NYT--they address not only art plundered by Nazis, but questions raised by current destruction of art by ISIS. 
And of course there's the issue of Native American art right here in my backyard. 

I thought of the topic because I went to see Woman in Gold this weekend, a film about the late Maria Altmann's decade-long legal battle [links to NPR article] to win back from the Austrian government several Gustav Klimt paintings the Nazis stole from her Viennese family, including the famous portrait (left) of her aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer.

Best line: "Do you think the Austrian government is going to give back a painting so popular it has ended up as a refrigerator magnet?"

It's a clunky movie, but worthwhile because it's such an interesting (and true) story, and the acting is good: the younger Maria is played by the wonderful Tatiana Maslany, of Orphan Black; the older, by Helen Mirren.
 I'd like to see one of the documentaries about this case---I hear Stealing Klimt is the best.

A couple other things I've encountered on the topic recently:
 the mediocre movie The Monuments Men and the excellent book The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal, about the remnant of art that remained of his Jewish Viennese family after the Nazis--a collection of Japanese netsuke ("A Closer Look at the Netsuke", 3-min. video).


Michael Leddy said...

Two other documentaries: Portrait of Wally and The Rape of Europa. I’ve seen the first of these; it’s excellent.

Zhoen said...

One of the last times we went to the MFA in Boston was right before they were told some of their paintings were stolen. Their reaction was "They can't prove that!" Wow. Um, no.

Fresca said...

MICAHEL: Thanks for the recs, I just put them both on hold at the library.

ZHOEN: Yeah, this issue doesn't always bring out the best in people (or in our institutions anyway)--
And I can even imagine being a museum director just loathing to give up a piece of art.

Humans are difficult, and it's difficult to be one too...