Monika Weiss’ Two Laments, a series of video cantos that address the event of rape in India […], questions both how one can be emancipated from the residual pain of victimhood, but also how victimhood, especially transformed by the phantom language of memory, can be a site for co-shared resistance. […] Weiss asks questions that many feminists or artists would often deem taboo. Her piece thus forms a thorough meditation upon trauma and pain [...]. Weiss is interested in [...] the process in which the private becomes part of the public domain.

Her work is what Griselda Pollock terms “post-traumatic” in that it contends with events that remain within collective psychic consciousness but are unable to be fully or properly mourned because the extremity of the trauma defies speech.

Weiss addresses the colonial past of the city of Delhi. […] The city acts as a second body, and second victim to a different type of violence. This city is also representative of a female body or perceived oriental or exotic zone that the West often fetishizes and thus, abjects. […] In Weiss’ video, these two critiques go hand in hand. The demolition of the female form is akin with the destruction and framing of the east [...]. By interweaving these two critical narratives, that of feminism and that of colonialism, Weiss is claiming that the violence perpetrated to women in sex crimes carries the same gravitas as the public violence in the city, and thus, should have the same visibility, the same critical language, and the same public reminders.

Vanessa Gravenor, Monika Weiss’ Two Laments,
in: n.paradoxa – international feminist art journal, vol. 37, 2016, pp. 83-88


[Monika Weiss] is interested in projects of commemoration and memory, raising questions about how an artist—not a witness or a survivor—should react to the traumas of history and what constitutes post-memory. In Poland, where disclosure of the atrocities at Jedwabne (farther east) has created an ongoing crisis in Polish-Jewish relations, there’s excruciating sensitivity about memory of the war years. To whom does memory belong? Who has the right to respond to it? […]

In a conversation after the performance at Zielona Góra, one of the young women lamenters said to Weiss, “You know, before I went there […], there was nothing. There was nothing in this place, and now it’s something.

Frances Brent, The Lamentation Project. Polish Artist Monika Weiss’ ‘post-memory’ project
in Zielona Góra asks who owns past Jewish suffering
, in: Tablet Magazine, June 2016


Weiss’ formative works addressed events during World War II and highlighted violence perpetrated against the human body, specifically the female or ill who are often the most vulnerable to casualties. These works include Shrouds (Caluny), a performance that occurred in 2012 on the grounds of a former concentration camp ruin. In the video documentation of the performance, women walk in a landscape tainted with Beckett-like sense of transcendental doom. Weiss questions how one should remember the events that have transpired when the present sites are banished to entropy or, in the case of this specific site, might be transformed into a junk space shopping mall.

Vanessa Gravenor, Monika Weiss’ Two Laments,
in: n.paradoxa – international feminist art journal, vol. 37, 2016, pp. 83-88

Monika Weiss’ project reveals the cognitive-emotional role of art, which is appreciated only when the artist reminds us of things we were too lazy or afraid to remember: things that awaken fear and do not provide necessarily easy conclusions. The artist takes the side of the tormented, killed, and forgotten. The title’s shrouds do not heal, do not dress, and do not calm. They are signs of memory’s clinical death, a condition where we are still able to turn back. It is just up to us, the inhabitants of this city, whether and in what way we choose to resuscitate it. Monika Weiss diagnoses the state it is in—we have to take care of its change if we choose to do so—not in the name of a clean conscience, but for solidarity with every victim, no matter who they are.

Wojciech Kozłowski in RECALL: Monika Weiss & Roland Schefferski,
catalogue of the exhibition at the BWA Zielona Góra and Muzeum Ziemi Lubuskiej, Poland, 2014


Weiss recalls the horror of the event resorting to literary texts, direct testimonies of survivors, and images of the time. She does so using a cinematographic language and fragmented and suggestive elements which do not pretend to evoke a historical event but an emotion, a feeling. A feeling that is logically not experienced in the same way in different countries. An image which is as clear as it is necessary. All the more so at present, when history is a murmur.

Juan José Santos, Sustenazo (Lament II) - Monika Weiss, Museum of Memory and Human Rights, Chile,
Arte al Dia International, Miami, FL, May 16, 2013

… we hear a recitation. “It’s Paul Celan,” reveals the artist. The first video portrays a lamenting woman; nearby we see hands turning pages of faded type, pages from German medical books and poetry. Accompanying these videos are mixed sounds—overlapping voices in Polish and in German. “Lament,” says Weiss, “is outside of language; it denies the heroism of a narrative.” ... I think about the fact that Monika Weiss titled her installation “Sustenazo,” a Greek word that means “lamenting together, in silence.” I find it important that there is someone who doesn’t try to teach us anything, but simply tells us about the helplessness of human language.

Michał Wicha, History for Internal Use,
Tygodnik Powszechny, Krakow, Poland, Apr. 14, 2010


The construction and deconstruction of history, emphasizing its suppressions and omissions, connects the works of the group of artists, which include Mark Dion, Mathilde ter Heijne, Susan Hiller, and Monika Weiss. The themes or areas of investigation are dissimilar, from archaeology or women's self-sacrifice to Nazism (Monika Weiss), but always centered around the deconstruction of stereotypical discourse that becomes unmovable version.

Janet Batet, Forms of ClassificationArtNexus, no.65, Jul.-Sept. 2007


Monika Weiss' survey exhibition at the Lehman College Art Gallery is her first ever such retrospective show in the New York region […]. The renown of Ms. Weiss […] has endowed this event with considerable stature. The exhibition's title, "Five Rivers," refers to the five rivers in Greek mythology that are believed to separate the world of the living from Hades, the world of the dead, and through which one must pass to achieve eternal life. Ms. Weiss is clearly fascinated by this transition, and something of her fascination is evident in "White Chalice (Ennoia)" (2004), an installation consisting of a video image of her curled-up body projected into a medieval baptismal font filled with water. It is as though she were back in the womb, about to be reborn, yet heavy with time.

Benjamin Genocchio, Art Review: An Artist Whose Performance Delivers,
The New York Times
, Dec. 18, 2005


Experiencing the work of Monika Weiss involves all your senses to some degree. One can not simply walk past the "Skulenie" (2003), an enigmatic charcoal drawing on photographic backdrop paper, without feeling the essence of the artist's presence, or hearing the echoes of physical form resonating in Weiss' drawings, sculpture installations, live or video projected performative works. […] Sculpted cast-concrete vessel filled with hundreds of layers of paper Lethe may be viewed with or without the live or prerecorded presence of the artist. The evidence of a past performance is still palpable through the line traces of her body, another play on time and perspective. Lethe may also function with the sensors and motors creating a 'breathing' rhythm based on a fragment of music by Hildegard of Bingen.

Lennie Varvarides, Intervals (Without Interruption), NY Arts Magazine, 2004


Dislocating boundaries of time, space and gender, this project was set in dark room. A river of murky brown oil emanated from the 35 by 35 inch octagonal font positioned mid-way through the space. The stream widened as it fell to the back wall, reflecting imagery from an adjacent projection. Oil fumes censed the head-on view of a 13-foot square projection depicting two figures engaged in an intimate ritual before a deep blue earthen wall. A kneeling figure suckled unceasing at the breast of a stoic "loved one." The subtle, paint-inflected hand of the artist entered the frame at rare moments to manipulate the actors. As a complex parody of ritual, Koiman revealed the cultural, social and political practices that engender decay and collapse. Weiss, who showed the installation "Saint Sebastian from Atlanta" at Nexus Press in Atlanta in 1996, consistently merges concept and environment in temporal multi-sensory installations.

Cathy Bird, Sara Hornbacher: Altered States; Monika Weiss: Koiman,
Art Papers Magazine
, Atlanta, GA, Mar/Apr 1999, vol. 23, issue 2, p. 3, 46, and 47