Monika Weiss - Biography

Polish-American, born in Warsaw, Poland, lives and works in New York City.

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

Represented by Silas Von Morisse Gallery, New York and Samuel Lallouz Gallery, Montreal.

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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 film projections, sound compositions, performance-based installations in public spaces, 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 often 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)

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 Campsat 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).

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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 TimesArtNewsArt in AmericaArt PapersSculpture MagazineTablet Magazinen.paradoxa (London), ArtNexusMontreal Gazette, Yale Radio, ArtSlantNY Art MagazineArtUSGulf News(Dubai), The Prague PostLaPanera (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, 2009 and 2017. 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 been dividing her time between New York and St. Louis where she serves as Associate Professor at Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University.