Copy of Notes on Two Laments (19 Cantos), 2015-2016

Monika Weiss  Two Laments (19 Cantos)  2015 - 2020  19 projections (color, black and white, sound, silent) of various durations, 4K digital film   Still from Prelude (Canto 1)  Limited edition photograph, 1 of 3  30 x 50 in.

Wrath - canto 1
The (Un) Scene Art Show / Armory Week, New York


Monika Weiss
Notes on Wrath (Canto 1, Canto 2, Canto 3)

In Wrath the image is of a young woman architect from Iran, whom I filmed in my studio in New York. Sound and text in this work are my musical and textual response inspired by our conversation. I invited her to perform silent, nearly motionless gestures of lamentation by gradually removing her black head scarf, revealing her gaze, in silent meditation. This act evoked a memory of another time, in Tehran, when she abandoned her scarf and rushed through the city bareheaded, free, if only for that moment in time. My short poetic film became a record of this encounter but also a further musical, visual and textual exploration of the fragile and conflicting relationships between women’s bodies and cities, acts of veiling and exposure, and structures of power and history.

As an artist I try to share moments of memory and history with my audience. History in my work is shown from the collective viewpoint of those who are or were marginalized, oppressed, forgotten, erased, disappeared or destroyed. I work with traces, remnants, after-histories, post-memories, archives, fragments. Not being a proper witness nor a proper survivor, I invite others to inhabit my films, sound compositions and performances to join me in the space of lamentation, understood as a political gesture. Lament is possibly the oldest known form of music and poetry. In my view, moments of historical and personal trauma are best represented by veiling them into dignified, protected, and anonymous stories. In Wrath my protagonist remains nameless yet is also powerfully present. My work relies on this immediacy of encounter but also on poetry and beauty as a form of language containing a possibility towards political, social and ethical transformation.

Monika Weiss, 2015