Mira Lobe and Susi Weigel worked together for almost 50 years, creating children’s books that Lobe wrote and Weigel illustrated. Most of those books were extremely successful, many have been translated into many languages. The exhibition shows not only their work and lives, but puts it into a political context that is shaped by the fact that Lobe was Jewish and that both had strong socialist convictions.
I grew up on Mira Lobe and Susi Weigel books, but to see their work in the exhibition really showed me how productive they were – and how much of it I can still discover. I also appreciated the background info that made me look at their books in a new light.
One of the best things about the exhibition was how it catered to both children and adults without any conflict. A lot of the exhibition centered around the idea of limited living space and the municipal housing compounds that were a socialist after-WW2 addition to Vienna and how that is also part of Lobe’s and Weigel’s work – and so you had the theoretical info and you had wooden buildings and tunnels that kids could squeeze through. There was space on the wall to glue ripped paper on (one of the books’ illustrations are entirely made from ripped paper figurines) and of course, there were the books themselves.
At the beginning of the exhibition, they had hung a lot of the books the two created on colorful string from the ceiling to down about 5 year old kids’ height and that way you could just sit there and read through it all. Although reading all would probably take you an extremely long while – they really did create a lot. [Here‘s a (German) list of Lobe’s books, if you want to know all the details.]I was actually surprised by how many things by the two of them (alone or together) I didn’t know. Lobe, for example, has written a young adult novel called Anni and the Film which I had never heard of before. It was, apparently a huge flop (not socialist enough for some, too socialist for others) but which filmenthusiastic me desperately wants to read now.
They also had a bit of video material showing Lobe in action and it was really nice to get an impression of her personally. Though both her and Susi Weigel’s private life made only a small part of the exhibition, it was interesting to see as well (and I would have liked a little more of it). But that’s the only beef I have with the exhibition in general.Summarizing: An excellent showing which will be in Vorarlberg later this year as well, if you still want to catch it.