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Panel Discussion 5: Nirbhaya – Monuments & Memory
Invited speakers: Lance Jay Brown, Marianne Hirsch, Daniel Libeskind, Monika Weiss, Krzysztof Wodiczko, and James E. Young, moderated by Rick Bell.
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Monument | Anti-Monument
Creative Exchange Lab | Center for Architecture & Design STL (CEL) proudly announces a program of six virtual international panel discussions collectively titled Monument | Anti-Monument.
Moderated by Rick Bell, the program takes place in conjunction with two concurrent solo exhibitions: Monika Weiss – Monument | Anti-Monument (March 31st – April 22nd, 2021) at CEL, and Monika Weiss: Nirbhaya (March 27th – May 22nd, 2021) at the Centre for Polish Sculpture in Orońsko, a National Heritage Institution of Poland.
Inspired by the work of the internationally celebrated Polish-American artist Monika Weiss and her paradigm-shifting monument/anti-monument project Nirbhaya the panels bring together artists, architects, activists, and historians to debate the role of monuments and commemorative design in shaping cultural identity.
The work of Monika Weiss is predicated on the act of unforgetting past traumas. It has particular resonance at this time when we rethink our histories and ways of remembering. In Nirbhaya, a memorial dedicated to victims of everyday violence that occurs globally, and named after Jyoti Singh, who was tortured, raped and killed at the age of 23 (posthumously named Nirbhaya, “Fearless” in Hindi) the artist transforms the traditional vertical form of a triumphal arch into a horizontal sarcophagus filled with water and moving image.
This forthcoming permanent outdoor memorial by Monika Weiss will be built as two sister monuments, both in Poland and in the US. Polish location is in the public park of the Centre for Polish Sculpture in Orońsko. US location is co-organized in collaboration with Streaming Museum and will be announced soon.
Panel 5: Friday, May 7
Nirbhaya – Monuments & Memory
Inspired by Monika Weiss’s Nirbhaya memorial built as the artist’s response to events she didn’t witness directly, yet which needed to be reconsidered as a form of collective postmemory, Panel 5 focuses on the long tradition of monuments and memorials making history into victorious memory. Often placed in highly visible sites such as public squares or public parks, with a purpose to inspire commemoration and remembrance of specific individuals and events, monuments occupy both the consciousness and the unconscious of communities or entire cultures. Panel 5 looks into direct and indirect relationships between monuments, monumentality and public memory as means of producing or reflecting power and defining history, as well as looks into recent history of Counter-Monuments as artistic and social subversions and disclosures of collective trauma. The role of monuments and anti-monuments in reshaping of our understanding of history is investigated in the context of the artist’s gesture of placing the triumphal arch down, denying its victorious and forever conquering verticality.
Panel 5 is moderated by Rick Bell and includes the artist Monika Weiss as well as invited speakers: Lance Jay Brown, Marianne Hirsch, Daniel Libeskind, Krzysztof Wodiczko, and James E. Young.
See speaker bios after registration information.
The six panel discussions are scheduled bi-weekly on these Fridays: March 12, March 26, April 9, April 23, May 7 and May 21
All panels take place at 12 Noon (CST), 1PM (EST), 20:00 (GMT), 21:00 (GMT+1)
Registration is required to receive the Zoom invitation.
To register for Panel 5 follow this link:
Jasmin Aber is the Director of the Creative Exchange Lab, and a licensed architect, trained in the United Kingdom. She is an urbanist with over twenty-five years of experience as a design practitioner. Jasmin is an academic, educator, mentor, and curator, as well as the co-founder and executive director of the CEL Center for Architecture and Design (CEL) in St. Louis. Her research work and design practice involve culture-led planning, utilizing music, art, and cultural heritage for placemaking and equitable and sustainable community and economic development. She is the co-curator of the 2019 exhibition Public Art, Public Memory: Who is Missing which engaged with contemporary discussion around expanding representation in our public monuments.
Rick Bell teaches at Columbia University where he is helps direct the Center for Buildings, Infrastructure and Public Space. A registered architect in New York, Rick previously served as Executive Director of Design and Construction Excellence at the NYC Department of Design and Construction. While Executive Director of AIA New York, he was instrumental in establishing and animating the Center for Architecture. He was also a member of the LMDC Committee that wrote the program for the National 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center. After architectural studies at Yale and Columbia, he worked in offices in New York, France, and Switzerland. He was on the advisory board of the inaugural NYC Architecture Biennial in 2020 and currently serves on the Board of the Creative Exchange Lab.
Over the past twenty-five years, the internationally celebrated Polish-American artist Monika Weiss has developed an aesthetic vocabulary of profound emotional impact that surpasses the limits of conventions around medium. Trained as a visual artist and classical pianist, Weiss creates synesthetic works, placing the visual on a par with the sonic and the haptic. A defining feature of Weiss’ practice is a commitment to exploring states of suspension or near stillness that disrupt the flow of time and hold a transformative potential. For Weiss, the poetic forms a language through which to explore the body, history, and violence. Her aesthetic vocabulary consists of recurring motives that include immersions in water, embryonic forms, the prostate body, lament, black cloth and digital doubling, forming a visual politics of affect. Weiss frequently employs her own body or choreographs other subjects, particularly women, to navigate histories of violence and sites of trauma. These works attend to the memorial landscapes of global conflicts like the Second World War, as well as to the recurring manifestations of gender-based violence. Public projects that take the form of ephemeral and site-specific environments constitute an important strand in Weiss’ practice. The artist’s exploration of public memory and cultural amnesia is underscored by a focus on the vulnerability of the female body in the context of the city. Weiss’ first permanent outdoor project Nirbhaya, a monument to victims of gendered violence, is planned concurrently in her native Poland (2021) and in the United States (2023).
Her 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 CCA ZamekUjazdowski in Warsaw, Poland (2010), later travelling to 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, Montréal, organized a two-person exhibition of Carolee Schneemann and Monika Weiss. Weiss has exhibited alongside artists including Louise Bourgeois, Ana Mendieta, Mona Hatoumand Shirin Neshat. Group exhibitions include an international video art survey at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Athens, Greece (2016); Forms of Classification: Alternative Knowledge and Contemporary Art and The Prisoner’s Dilemma at the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation/CIFO, Miami (2006 and 2008); Drawing Now: Between The Lines of Contemporary Art at Loughborough University, UK (2009), Alan Sondheim & Monika Weiss – Enunciation at Eyebeam, New York (2012) and the inaugural exhibition at Prague’s Muzeum Montanelli (MuMo) (2010). Her works are included in public and private collections worldwide, including Albertina Museum, Vienna, AU; Cisneros FontanalsArt Foundation/CIFO, Miami, FL; Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, NY; Frauenmuseum, Bonn, DE; CCA Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw, PL; and Dimas de Melo Pimenta’s collection, Locarno, SW. The artist was born in Warsaw, Poland and has lived in New York City since 2000. The artist currently divides her time between New York and St. Louis, where she is on the faculty of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University.
The Nirbhaya monument by Monika Weiss is featured in the upcoming issue of Centerpoint Now, the publication of the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations (WCPUN), produced in collaboration with Streaming Museum, that highlights issues on the agenda of the international community and marks 75th Anniversary of the United Nations.
As part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art series Artists on Art, a 30-minute film with Monika Weiss will premiere on March 30th, in which the artist will talk about her response to Goya’s graphic works and discuss her own practice.
Lance Jay Brown
Lance Jay Brown is President and founding Board Member of the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization (UN NGO). Born in Brooklyn, Brown previously taught at Princeton, was educated at the Cooper Union and Harvard University. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) and former Chair and Director of the Spitzer School of Architecture, City University. He was 2014 President of the AIA New York Chapter, holds the title of Distinguished Professor for Life Emeritus from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), and received the coveted AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education. He co-founded the AIA Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee. He was a UN-HABITAT III Policy Unit 8 member and 2016 Quito presenter. Prof. Brown was a two-term Board Member of the Beverly Willis Architectural Foundation and a founding Advisory Board Member of both the NYC Architecture Biennial and International Nighttime Design Initiative. He holds an M.Arch and M.UD from Harvard and was a Paris Fulbright Fellow. Publications include: Beyond Zuccotti Park: Freedom of Assembly and the Occupation of Public Space; The Legacy Project: New Housing New York; Urban Design for an Urban Century, co-authored. He was competition advisor to the National 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center and to the 9/11 Memorial at Logan Airport in Boston.
Marianne Hirsch writes about the transmission of memories of violence across generations, combining feminist theory with memory studies in global perspective. Her recent books include The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust, School Photos in Liquid Time: Reframing Difference, co-authored with Leo Spitzer; and the co-edited volume Women Mobilizing Memory. Hirsch teaches Comparative Literature and Gender Studies at Columbia University and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. With a group of artists, activists and scholars, she is currently working on a community-based post-Covid project in Upper New York City: “Zip Code Memory Project: Practices of Justice and Repair.”
An international figure in architecture and urban design, Daniel Libeskind is renowned for his ability to evoke cultural memory in buildings. Informed by a deep commitment to music, philosophy, literature, and poetry, Mr. Libeskind aims to create architecture that is resonant, unique and sustainable.
Born in Lód’z, Poland, in 1946, Mr. Libeskind immigrated to the United States as a teenager and, with his family, settled in the Bronx.
In 2003, Studio Libeskind won another historic competition—to create a master plan for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. In addition to a towering spire of 1,776 feet, the Libeskind design study proposed a complex program encompassing a memorial, underground museum, the integration of the slurry wall, special transit hub and four office towers.
Krzysztof Wodiczko, born 1943 in Warsaw, Poland, lives and works in New York City, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in Warsaw.
He is renowned for his large-scale projections on architectural facades, and monuments and designs of communicative street equipment to enforce public voice and expression of the marginalized city residents.
Krzysztof Wodiczko is a recipient of 4th Hiroshima Art Prize “for his contribution as an international artist to the world peace”.
He has held retrospective exhibitions in numerous museums and art centers.
He is Professor of Art, Design and the Public Domain at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.
James E. Young
James E. Young is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of English and Judaic & Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he has taught since 1988, and Founding Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at UMass Amherst. He has also taught at NYU, Bryn Mawr, the University of Washington, Harvard and Princeton. His teaching and research areas include narrative theory, cultural memory studies, Holocaust studies, and visual culture.
Professor Young is the author of Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust (1988), The Texture of Memory (1993), At Memory’s Edge: After-images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture (2000), and The Stages of Memory: Reflections on Memorial Art, Loss, and the Spaces Between (2016).
At present, he is completing an insider’s story of the World Trade Center Memorial, entitled Memory at Ground Zero: A Juror’s Report on the World Trade Center Site Memorial and Museum.