Monika Weiss

Monika Weiss' "Koiman II – Years Without Summers (24 Nocturnes)" is a series of 24 film projections, 24 sound compositions, and charcoal and graphite drawings inspired by Winterreise (Winter Journey), a cycle of 24 songs for voice and piano composed in 1828 by the German Romantic composer Franz Schubert. It is dedicated to the artist’s late mother, pianist Gabriela Weiss, who passed away in April 2017, and to current refugees and migrants around the world. Each film portrays an anonymous female protagonist performing silent, almost motionless gestures of lamentation, set against dark landscapes of wintery forests, lakes and urban areas. The choreography of movement, slow motion and superimposition are characteristic of "Koiman II" series. Concurrently, Weiss writes music for each film and works with opera vocalists to perform/record her musical compositions, which she later edits in digital format.


(Polish, b. 1964 in  Warsaw, Poland, lives and works in New York)


Music, Video, Sound, Cinema, Installation & Performance artist. 


For two decades, Monika Weiss has made art that allows us to reflect on the relationship between body, history and memory. Weiss' artistic practice includes creating performance-based installations in public spaces, film projections, sound compositions, objects, self-shot photographs, and accompanying large-scale drawings shown in museums and galleries internationally. Employing her own body as a vehicle of expression the artist invites others to participate in her films and performances. British art critic Guy Brett wrote, "Weiss provides an alternative experience of space and time which is not end-driven but steady and enduring… The artist explores the prostrate body as a paradoxical sign of resistance to oppressive and militaristic cultures. Sound meticulously composed by the artist lifts the silent, filmed actions into another emotional register.”


The artist was originally trained as a classical musician, before studying fine arts. “Music is a primary language for the artist who listened daily to the piano as a child and then studied at the Warsaw Conservatory. Weiss composes all the sound compositions for her films. Her body, a vehicle for expression and (silent) narration, stands for existence: its markings, absence—both are part of life. In Weiss’s practice, historical memory, language, recorded sound, the moving image, the body, time, and contingency are embedded. " (Julia P. Herzberg)


“In her work lament [or lamentation] functions as a gendered sociopolitical and poetic commentary set against the shifting frames of violence that shape our histories." (Kalliopi Minioudaki)


Monika Weiss’ solo museum exhibitions include the 2005 retrospective at the Lehman College Art Gallery (CUNY) Five Rivers, reviewed in The New York Times, as well as Sustenazo, commissioned by the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland (2010), and later shown at the Museum of Memory & Human Rights, Santiago, Chile (2012-2013) and the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, Miami (2014). In 2004 Remy Toledo Gallery, New York, in cooperation with Galerie Samuel Lallouz, Montreal, organized a two-person exhibition of Carolee Schneemann and Monika Weiss. The artist's works have been also shown alongside artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Ana Mendieta, Mona Hatoum, Alfredo Jaar and Shirin Neshat, to name a few.


Weiss' work has been featured at Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Athens, Greece (international video art survey Fireflies in the Night Take Wing, curated by Barbara London, Kalliopi Minioudaki and Francesca Pietropaolo, directed by Robert Storr, 2016), Eyebeam, New York (Enunciation with Alan Sondheim, 2012), Streaming Museum, New York (John Cage Centennial Tribute, 2012), Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation CIFO, Miami (Forms of Classification: Alternative Knowledge and Contemporary Art, 2007; The Prisoner’s Dilemma: Selections from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros  Collection, 2009), and she was part of Prague’s Muzeum Montanelli (MuMo)’s inaugural show in 2010 which was opened by Vaclav Havel. Some other notable exhibitions include Moment by Moment: Meditations of the Hand at North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks (2006); On the Absence of Camps at Kunsthaus Dresden (2006); POZA: On the Polishness of Polish Contemporary Art at Real Art Ways, Hartford (2008); and Frauen bei Olympia at Frauenmuseum (Museum of Women in the Arts), Bonn (2009).


An important part of Weiss' work is public projects that are site-specific and historically charged environments. Commissioned by The Drawing Center, her Drawing Lethe (2006) took place at the World Financial Center Winter Garden within sight of Ground Zero, where workers were still searching for remains. Passersby lied down and marked their presence onto the enormous canvas covering the floor, which gradually became a drawing-and-sound field. In Shrouds-Całuny (2012), Weiss filmed, from an airplane, local women performing silent gestures of lamentation on the abandoned, forgotten site of the former concentration camp Gruenberg, Germany, located now in Zielona Góra, Poland.  


In 2007 her work was discussed in the survey publication Drawing Now: Between the Lines of Contemporary Art (London: I. B. Tauris).  Her monographic publications include Monika Weiss: Sustenazo (Lament II), Museum of Memory & Human Rights, Santiago, Chile (2012), Monika Weiss: Fiver Rivers, Lehman College Art Gallery, City University of New York (2006) and Monika Weiss: Vessels, Chelsea Art Museum, New York (2004). Her work has been reviewed internationally, including The New York Times, ArtNews, Art in America, Art Papers, Sculpture Magazine, Tablet Magazine, n.paradoxa (London), ArtNexus, Montreal Gazette, Yale Radio, ArtSlant, NY Art Magazine, ArtUS, Gulf News (Dubai), The Prague Post, LaPanera (Chile), La Revista Nueva (Buenos Aires), Obieg (Warsaw) and numerous others.


Weiss' grants and residency fellowships include a BRIC Residency Fellowship (2017), Harvestworks Production Grant (2017), CCA Zamek Ujazdowski AIR Laboratory Residency Fellowship (2010), NYFA Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Art (2009) and YADDO Residency Fellowships in 2005 and 2009. For her travelling solo museum exhibition, Sustenazo, the artist received support from the US Embassy in Poland (2010), Trust for Mutual Understanding (2009) and Chilean Ministry of Culture (2012). In 2006 her public project at WFC Winter Garden received generous support from Winter Garden Arts. Since 2011, Weiss has served as Associate Professor in the graduate program of Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis.


Born in Warsaw, Poland (1964) the artist lives and works in New York City.


Silas Von Morisse Gallery: Outside the trends but in the Market
GULF NEWS: ARTS Exploring the concept of absence
TABLET MAGAZINE Polish artist Monika Weiss’ ‘post-memory’ project in Zielona Góra asks who owns past Jewish suffering By Frances Brent
N.PARADOXA, UK 'Monika Weiss’ Two Laments' in 'n.paradoxa international feminist art journal', volume 37, Jan 2016 (SOUND?NOISE!VOICE!) pp.83-88 By Vanessa Gravenor
YALE UNIVERSITY RADIO Monika Weiss By Brainard Carey, July 21, 2015
THE FROST ART MUSEUM Monika Weiss brings Sustenazo (Lament II) to the Frost Art Museum By Emmett Young
PERFORMANCE RESEARCH: A JOURNAL OF PERFORMING ARTS Volume 18, 2013 - Issue 3: On Scenography / Audible Scenography by Johannes Birringer
LA PANERA, CHILE REVIEW: A Lament in the Public Square By Miguel Laborde, La Panera Num. 34 Published on Dec 9, 2012
Märkische Allgemeine Vielstimmiges Lamento Installation Videoprojekt der New Yorkerin Monika Weiss zum Auftakt einer neuen Ausstellungsreihe
NRK Monika Weiss i Warszawa
WYBORCZA Kultura: Review
ESSE ARTS & OPINIONS MONIKA WEISS at Galerie Samuel Lallouz, Montreal, Nov. 27, 2008—Jan. 31, 2009 By Norman F. Cornett
CIFO CISNEROS FONTANALS ART FOUNDATION EXHIBITION CATALOGUE: Forms of Classification: Alternative Knowledge and Contemporary Art Selections from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection by Cecilia Fajardo-Hill
ARTNEWS REVIEWS NEW YORK: Kaarina Kaikkonen and Monika Weiss By Carol Damian
THE NEW YORK TIMES ART REVIEW: An Artist Whose Performance Delivers By BENJAMIN GENOCCHIO Published: December 18, 2005

"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 (...) 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 (sculpture) filled with water. It is as though she were back in the womb, about to be reborn, yet heavy with time."

ARTNET Toxic Ritual by Cathy Byrd