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Friday, May 6 • 1:00pm - 1:15pm
Monika Weiss

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Two Laments is a series of 19 film projections with sound (19 Cantos). Inspired by the events in India, Two Laments is a response to the two forms of violation of two kinds of embodied sites: a woman's body and the body of a city. On December 16, 2012 in Munirka/Delhi, 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey (sometimes referred to as Nirbhaya (Fearless) or India's Daughter) was brutally gang-raped on a bus moving through the city and later died. In court transcripts of the trial, I found a statement by one of the perpetrators who remembered seeing a red ribbon coming out of her body. The red ribbon, which upon further investigation, transpired to be her intestine, signified her body being turned inside out, a horrific and transgressive mirroring of the act of the rape itself. This fact became a catalyst for the entire project of Two Laments (19 Cantos), where the red ribbon/veil poetically enshrouds Delhi, which becomes a meta-city standing for all cities bearing traces of historical trauma. Dedicated to Nirbhaya, 19 Cantos were inspired by 19 Treny (19 Laments) by the 16-century Polish poet Jan Kochanowski on the death of his daughter. India Gate memorial was built by the British in the center of New Delhi to commemorate Indian soldiers who died in the service of the Empire during the First World War. India Gate, modeled after Arc de Triomphe in Paris mirrors the grand design of New Delhi; the same architect, Edwin Lutyens, designed both. It seems New Delhi is intended as a form of architectural and cultural response to Old Delhi, perhaps to “teach” India what culture should look like. In my project the city of Delhi becomes a meta-city bearing marks of trauma: Nirbhaya and India Gate. The work addresses global narrative of violence against women and cities. While Nirbhaya stands for often-erased memory of gender-based violence, the memorial represents colonial history, collective amnesia of war, and heroic, institutionally cherished memory of fallen solders.

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Monika Weiss

Artist & Associate Professor, Hyphen-Hub & Washington University
Monika Weiss' transdisciplinary practice explores relationships between body, history and collective memory. Her film projections, performative video/sound installations, and public projects combine minimalist poetic approach with complex socially engaged narratives. Weiss' current... Read More →

Friday May 6, 2016 1:00pm - 1:15pm EDT
Clemente Center
  Arts Hub, Talk