MONIKA WEISS - MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST
Weiss’ primary medium was drawing, mostly of monumental female figures, spelling out a sense of singularity and vulnerability yet radiating internal power. She then began to employ her own body, first in immersions in her sculptures with water, and later to draw with it over landscape-like surfaces, moving her art toward performativity. Finally, she crossed from the personal to the historical in complex performative installations with participation of others and sound composed by the artist (Weiss was originally trained as a classical musician).
Through her earlier performative works from 1999-2007, often shown along works by such artists as Carolee Schneeman, Ana Mendieta, Louise Bourgeois, or Mona Hatoum, Weiss established basic grammar of her artistic language. The female body curled up in a vessel filled with water or ink, or lying flat on the ground, is symbolically set against the notion of the heroic body, traditionally in upright position, representing power. The other critical element is participation of others: passers-by or volunteers (Whitney Museum, 2003; The Drawing Center/WFC Winter Garden, 2006). Public projects constitute an important part of the artist’s oeuvre.
Weiss turned towards historical and political concerns in Phlegethon-Milczenie (2005) and elaborated her concept of Lament. Created for CCA Zamek Ujazdowski in Warsaw, Sustenazo (2010) was inspired by the forced expulsion of patients of the Ujazdowski Hospital into the streets of Warsaw by the German army during 1944 Warsaw Uprising. In Shrouds (Całuny) (BWA Zielona Góra, Poland, 2012), Weiss filmed from an airplane local women performing silent gestures of lamentation on the site of the forgotten concentration camp for Jewish women in Gruenberg, now Zielona Góra. Following the Arab Spring, the artist proposed a public project in the form of lament with local women on the Tahrir Square (Shrouds II (Cairo) in Cairo: Images of Transition 2011-2013, Columbia University Press, 2013). She is now working on Two Laments (19 Cantos) inspired by events in India, a series of 19 films projections focusing on two forms of globally occuring violence: the rape of women and the colonial subjugation of cities. It proposes time-based, performative and participatory commemoration of female victims – in opposition to the vertical solidity of monuments of men who died in wars.