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Monika Weiss: Five Rivers at Lehman College Art Gallery
Monika Weiss, Phlegethon-Miczenie, 2005. Still from video. Limited edition DVD, 14 minutes, color, sound. Installation and performance: Books, drawings, crayons, pencils, artist's body, projected video, sound.
BRONX, NEW YORK.-Lehman College Art Gallery is pleased to announce a survey exhibition of Polish-born, New York based artist Monika Weiss. “Monika Weiss: Five Rivers” presents an overview of the artist’s works created between 1999-2005 with a specific focus on new performative installations and most recent drawing series. Complex in their subtle interplay of meaning and form, Weiss’ work is often site-specific, combining sculpture, live action, video projection and sound environment. During the last six years the artist has produced a large number of new works and has been widely shown in the United States and Europe.

In her multi-media installations, combined with performance, Monika Weiss explores physical properties of the act of drawing, which she combines with references to the ancient and medieval symbols and concepts of the world and the human being. Weiss uses her own body directly in her art as both the maker and the inhabitant of the artistic object. In one of Weiss’ installation series Ennoia the artist immerses herself for several hours inside a water-filled chalice, while a projected image of the immersion and the underwater sounds mirror her action. In her ongoing series Intervals Weiss creates drawing landscapes that are spaces, which others may enter and fill with their own actions. In her work all formal means are subordinated to one major objective: awareness of presence and, conversely, of absence—in many works the artist is no longer there, leaving us with video and sound memory of her immersions and with the drawn mark. In her work the artist often demarcates the given space with materials such as paper, drawing tools, water, canvas, sculpted objects, projected video, sound environment and her own body.

The exhibition title, “Five Rivers,” refers to the mythological waters of the underworld through which one must pass in order to redeem their life. It is a metaphor that has for centuries served as cultural signifiers for poets, artists and composers, connoting the passage between here and there, the boundary between being and non-being. Looking through that metaphor at the artist’s last several years of production, one notices the importance of fluidity, repetition and motion both as symbolic allusions and as physical phenomena. In Weiss’ work this most elemental concern—being here and now, the being of the body—coincides and collapses into culture, history and language. In Weiss’ work language functions as drawing, speech, text, singing, composed music, and natural sounds. In her recent installation Phlegethon-Milczenie (2005), books printed before the Second World War serve as objects on which the artist crawls and draws, outlining the world around her body with her eyes purposefully closed. Like Mona Hatoum’s sculptures and Ann Hamilton’s installations, in Weiss’ work language always exists in the context of body.



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