Vanessa Gravenor & Monika Weiss: Thinking History, Violence & Gender

With works by Monika Weiss and Vanessa Gravenor; Moderated by Zofia nierodzińska

Film, presentation, Sound Art

Detail from Monika Weiss, Koiman II (Years Without Summers) (2017-2022) – part 1

Listening Session, Film Screening, Discussion

15.5.2024 // 20:00 (in English)




Monika Weiss, Koiman II – Years Without Summers (24 Nocturnes), cycle of sound compositions and 4K film projections, duration (part I) 18 minutes 30 seconds, 2017-2022.


Vanessa Gravenor, Paper Swallows Rock, HD video, stereo sound, 16 min 44 seconds, 2021.

“Thinking History, Gender, and Violence” is an event which brings together works by New York-based artist Monika Weiss and Berlin-based writer/artist Vanessa Gravenor. In a program of sound, film and video works by both artists—Weiss’s sound piece Thinking of History (2022) and sound/film Koiman II (Years Without Summers) (2017-2022) and Gravenor’s short film Paper Swallows Rock (2021) —the works will serve as a platform to discuss embodied and mediated perspectives on trans-historical and trans-national violence through individual, political and affective practices. Together with moderator Zofia nierodzińska, the event will situate trans-generational, feminist collaborations that give visibility to voices from contemporary and historical struggles.



Thinking of History (2022) by Monika Weiss is a 10 min. 40 sec. sound work in which speaking voices collapse into a sonic landscape of lament. The work focuses on sonic and semiotic meanings of the word “history” and was commissioned by author Ming-Yuen S. Ma, as part of a series of commissioned sound works by artists discussed in his book, There Is No Soundtrack, Manchester University Press (2020).


Weiss’s Koiman II (Years Without Summers) (2017-2022) – part 1 – is a 18 min. 30 sec. sound/film work dedicated to the artist’s late mother, pianist Gabriela Weiss and to current refugees and migrants around the world, The subtitle derives from the 1815 volcanic explosion in present day Indonesia that affected the global environment leading to what was described as “a year without summer” (in 1816). “The ensuing darkness in parts of the world caused by volcanic ash was described by those who witnessed it, and is compared by Weiss to the darkness that envelops our world: refugee crises, climate change and the rise of blinkered nationalist ideologies.” (Mark McDonald, “Drawing Consciousness” in  Monika Weiss-Nirbhaya)


Paper Swallows Rock (2021) by Vanessa Gravenor is a short auto fiction film that meditates of images as sites of proximinal violence. Merging historical research, autobiographical events that turn on fiction, it follows the character Vanessa (28), who researchers children books produced during the Soviet-Afghani War while going through a scientific study using neuroscience exploring post-traumatic stress disorder following the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015.


Monika Weiss is a Polish intermedia artist based in New York. Griselda Pollock writes in the recent monograph on the artist: “Weiss’ artworks have long solicited our attention to historical events: forgotten, remembered, not yet mourned, or immemorial […] employing an “aesthetically intense, audio-visual musicality”[1]. Weiss work has been presented in over 100 exhibitions worldwide including individual shows at Lehman College Art Gallery, CUNY (reviewed in The New York Times), World Financial Center Winter Garden/New York, Centre of Contemporary Art Zamek Ujazdowski/Warsaw, Museum of Memory and Human Rights, Santiago/Chile, Frost Art Museum/Miami and BWA Zielona Góra. In 2022 Weiss was part of a historical survey of Polish feminist art at A.I.R. Gallery/NYC (reviewed in ARTnews). As part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art series Artists on Artworks, a 30-min. film premiered in 2021, in which Weiss responded to the work of Goya and reflected on her own transdisciplinary practice that evokes ancient rituals of lamentation, performed in response to tragedy. Her long-term public project devoted to victims of gendered violence, Nirbhaya is forthcoming in 2025 at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near United Nations in New York.


[1] Pollock, Griselda, “The Fidelity of Memory in an Endless Lament” in Monika Weiss-Nirbhaya, Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko, Poland, 2021


Vanessa Gravenor is an artist, filmmaker and writer working in Berlin and Hamburg, DE. As an artist, she works primarily in video and film on the topics of entangled traumas, archives of war, and psychic narratives. She has held scholarships from the DAAD as a graduate student (2015–16); a Research and Create grant from Canada Council for the Arts (2020); NEUSTART Kultur (2022). Her artistic work has been exhibited and screened at International Short Film Festival, Oberhausen; The Park Avenue Armory, NYC; Kim?, Riga; nGbk, Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Berlin; VISIO, Florence, among others. Recently published articles: “Serious Dreaming: Virtual Violence and Its Dreamed Double” Third Text, Vol. 34, Issue 6 (2020) no. 167; “Against the Double Negative,” Rosa Mercedes, (2023) no. 5; “Monika Weiss’s Two Laments,” n. Paradoxa, Feminist Journal, vol. 37 (Jan 2016).


Zofia nierodzińska is an author, curator, visual artist. She was the Deputy Director of the Arsenal Municipal Gallery in Poznań in 2017–22. She deals with the art of the post-socialist space, with the accessibility of culture, and with vulnerability as a basis for building translocal solidarity networks. She is the editor of the publications Politics of (In)Accessibility (2023) and, together with Jacek Zwierzynski, Creative Sick States: AIDS, CANCER, HIV (2021) and Acting Together (2022). She is curator and co-curator of exhibitions such as Politics of (In)Accessibilties. Citizens with Disabilities and Their Allies (2022), Creative Sick States: AIDS, CANCER, HIV (2020) and The Romantic Adventures of Beth Stephens, Annie Sprinkle and Breast Cancer (2018) at the Arsenal Municipal Gallery in Poznań.

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