Today is the real estate and the commerce and the corporate world--- memory of 
a city does not constitute a value, unless it's a negative value, because it 
becomes a threat to the powers.

Nationalism of any kind does not interest me. Instead, is the redefinition of 
otherness as sameness.

I grew up seeing an empty square of ground located centrally in my own city of 
Warsaw, which used to be a royal castle.  After 1945 Soviets prevented Poland 
from rebuilding the castle, so that there was no national monument to speak of. 
But in the seventies, when the entire city was up and rebuild from zero to its 
simulacrum (as you know Germans reduced entire Warsaw to an ocean of rubble by 
systematically exploding and burning all buildings and bridges while Soviets 
watched this spectacle from the other side of a a very narrow river of Vistula, 
during Warsaw Uprising in August 1944) -- When I was growing up in seventies 
the rubble, gray like our grand zero in 2001, created a stark contrast to the 
rest of the city, a reverse monument, a whole, a living wound.


On Oct 5, 2012, at 7:41 AM, Ana Valdés wrote:

> Beautiful text, Monika! When I was a child (I was a very precocius
> reader :) and read history of Rome and Greece. My favorite was the
> history of Carthage and I was shocked how the city was erased and the
> Romans threw salt in it to avoid the Carthagineses should build it
> again.
> These horrible fate of a city was a nightmare for me and I asked my
> grandfather if our city could have the same fate and my grandfather
> tranquilized me, it happened in the old times, nothing similar could
> happen now.
> But he was wrong and he wanted spare me the grief, of course.
> I visited the city of Guernica in Spain some years ago and I tried to
> imagine the eerie atmosphere of the city when the fascist bombs fell
> over the city.
> It was these atmosphere the thing Picasso tried to paint in his painture.
> I searched the city of Guernica trying to evoke the day when the
> city's heart was ravaged.
> And what about the mourning today? It was a planted tree and a post
> telling the day and the time of the attack. Nothing more.
> Ana
> On Fri, Oct 5, 2012 at 1:24 AM, Monika Weiss <> wrote:
>> From a text I wrote about my current ongoing this year project "Shrouds".
>> Do cities remember? Maps of cities are flat, yet their histories contain
>> vertical strata of events. Where in the topography and consciousness of a
>> city can we locate its memory? Maps of the Polish city Zielona Góra depict
>> an empty unmarked rectangular area located on Wrocławska Street, across from
>> the Focus Park shopping mall. Located centrally within the city this area
>> looks abandoned, being composed mostly of broken masonry and wood debris.
>> Inquiries to citizens of Zielona Góra indicate that many of them do not know
>> the history of this abandoned area, including those who grew up near the
>> site.
>> Invited by a local museum to propose a project, I arrived to Zielona Góra
>> (Gruenberg) knowing of the past history of the unmarked yet centrally
>> located ruined site. On June 9th this year I flew on a small airplane to
>> film this territory and its surroundings. The flight marked the beginning of
>> my new project that will eventually develop into a film and a multi-layered
>> dialogue with the citizens of Zielona Góra. During the Second World War the
>> site was a forced labor camp, which later became a concentration camp
>> designated primarily for Jewish women. The camp was developed on the site of
>> the German wool factory, Deutsche Wollenwaren Manufaktur AG, which supplied
>> the German war machine with military clothing.  (It has since been converted
>> to a shopping mall.)  During the war about 1,000 young women worked there as
>> seamstresses and eventually became prisoners of the concentration camp
>> complex governed by KZ Groß-Rosen.  Towards the very end of the war the
>> prisoners were sent on one of the most tragic of the forced Death Marches
>> where many of them died.
>> Looking down from the airplane we see well-kept buildings surrounding the
>> ruins of the former camp, as though it were an open yet forgotten wound in
>> the body of the center of the city. During the performative phase of the
>> project, I invited a group of young women from Zielona Góra to spend some
>> time in silence on the site of the camp, wearing black scarfs which later
>> were taken off and left behind amongst the ruins. Their presence evoked the
>> absence of the prisoners.   In the dual video projection installation at the
>> BWA, (an exhibition that initiated the project in June), the faces of these
>> young women look towards us in silence. In another part of the projection we
>> observe a torso of a woman wrapping bandages onto her naked chest in a slow,
>> fragile gesture of defense, or perhaps caress. Her body stands for our
>> common body, anonymous as if it were a membrane between the self and the
>> external world. Awareness of our marginality becomes elevated into the realm
>> of meaning through our brief encounter with memory and history.
>> “Shrouds” considers aspects of public memory and amnesia in the construction
>> of the space of a city and its urban planning. As part of this project,
>> citizens of Zielona Góra are invited to propose how we choose to remember,
>> (or not) the women prisoners who perished there, and how this fulfilled the
>> goals of a systematic destruction of an entire population. Over the course
>> of this year citizens of Zielona Gora are also invited to respond to a
>> questionnaire in order to propose their own ideas for the development of the
>> area, whether as a site of commemoration, or through other forms of
>> dialogue. Earlier this year, after over 50 years of gradual decay and
>> abandonment, the site has been sold by the city's officials to an
>> undisclosed developer. Yet the larger debate in Zielona Gora, a dialogue
>> about the site of the former camp and about the city's memory and amnesia,
>> as well as about the meaning of citizenship and response-ability shall
>> continue, to some extend, thanks to "Shrouds".
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
> -- 
> cell Sweden +4670-3213370
> cell Uruguay +598-99470758
> "When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth
> with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you
> will always long to return.
> — Leonardo da Vinci
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

M o n i k a   W e i s s   S t u d i o
456 Broome Street, 4
New York, NY 10013
Phone: 212-226-6736
Mobile: 646-660-2809 

M o n i k a   W e i s s
Assistant Professor
Graduate School of Art & Hybrid Media
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts  
Washington University in St. Louis 
Campus Box 1031 
One Brookings Drive 
St. Louis, MO 63130

empyre forum

Reply via email to