Monika Weiss is an internationally recognized artist who creates durational and site-specific public performances, as well as films, drawings, photographs, and objects. Originally trained as a classical musician, she continues to compose sound for her work. The artist frequently employs her own body as a vehicle of artistic expression and invites others to inhabit her works. Weiss' transdisciplinary approach investigates relationships between body and history, and evokes ancient rituals of lamentation. Her current work considers aspects of public memory and amnesia as reflected within the physical and political space of a City.
In 2005 Lehman College Art Gallery (CUNY) organized a retrospective of the artist's work, Monika Weiss–Five Rivers, which was reviewed in The New York Times. Weiss' work continues to be the subject of solo museum exhibitions, including her travelling exhibition Sustenazo, first commissioned by the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland (2010), subsequently shown at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, Santiago, Chile (2012-2013), and scheduled to open at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum, FIU, Miami (April 23-August 3, 2014). In 2007 her work was included in the survey publication Drawing Now: Between the Lines of Contemporary Art (London: I. B. Tauris).
Weiss' writings have appeared in numerous publications including New Realities: Being Syncretic (Springer, Wien/New York) and Technoetic Arts (Intellect, London). She divides her time between New York City and St. Louis, where she is currently associate professor in Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and faculty affiliate in the Performing Arts Department in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Weiss' seminar topics have included postmemory and performativity, as well as theories of kinetic image and sound environment, situated within cross-disciplinary contexts informing hybrid and time-based practices today.
Introducing the artist's recent performance held as part of the Sensory Media Series at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, Krzysztof Wodiczko (Harvard's Professor in Residence of Art, Design and the Public Domain) said of Weiss: "Her focus is on postmemory, a new field in which she is one of the most original artistic pioneers. Postmemory, in the words of its founder, scholar Marianne Hirsh, describes the relationship that generations after—generations that do not remember directly the traumatic events—bear to the personal, collective and cultural trauma of previous generations. Not being a proper witness, not being a proper survivor, not being able to recall the very overwhelming events, Monika Weiss indirectly, on the basis of found fragments of images and encountered sites, chooses to inhabit them performatively through her art. She attempts to do so even if, in her words, they 'defy narrative reconstructions and exceed comprehension.' She does so through lamentation, an original, often public, performative, and collaborative form of her art."
The Sam Fox School and The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, in cooperation with the building's owners, are partnering to explore adaptive reuse alternatives for the Railway Exchange Building, a 1.2 million-square-foot structure that currently sits largely empty.