Marta – An Installation by Sonya Schönberger, until May 31, 2024

Do our possessions reflect the essence of who we are as people and bear the memories of our life experiences? What is the result when an artist “inhabits” someone else’s world or looks for the traces of who they were in their personal belongings?  

In 2022, Berlin-based visual artist Sonya Schönberger was a fellow at Villa Aurora, and spent three months sleeping in the former bedroom of Marta Feuchtwanger (1891–1987). Marta was the wife of German-Jewish exile writer Lion Feuchtwanger, whose antifascist writing was so influential he was declared “Public Enemy #1” by Joseph Goebbels in the run-up to World War II.  

With the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, the couple fled Europe. They settled in Pacific Palisades in 1943, where they rebuilt their collection of rare books. Their house, named Villa Aurora, became a haven for fellow exile writers. The Feuchtwanger Memorial Library, part of USC’s Special Collections, contains their books, papers, and memorabilia.  

In her artistic work, Schönberger primarily focuses on autobiographical challenges caused by political change, mainly through the lens of German history. While being and feeling close to Marta, she tried to understand who this woman was, and what her life was like—both with Lion by her side and in the thirty years alone at the Villa after he passed away. Marta is an installation composed of contemporary photographs paired with rare archival materials from the Feuchtwanger collections donated by Marta to the USC Libraries upon her death.

This exhibition, cosponsored by Villa Aurora and Thomas Mann House, seeks to recover the voice of Marta, whose contributions have long been overshadowed by academic investigation of her husband’s life and work.

Doheny Memorial Library, first-floor Treasure Room3550 Trousdale ParkwayUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA 90089 

Parking and RSVP
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Opening Reception
Thursday, February 15, 6:00 p.m.

The exhibition will be on view from February 15 – May 31, 2024. 
Visit USC libraries for opening hours.

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