Monika Weiss Nirbhaya
Nirbhaya is a project by prominent Polish-American artist Monika Weiss. A memorial dedicated to victims of everyday violence, Nirbhaya is named after Jyoti Singh. The work will be a permanent part of the park and collection of the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko. Funds are being raised currently for its completion.
India Gate in New Delhi and l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris became the direct inspiration for the project. The artist’s response to the symbolism of these monuments devoted to the heroism of war participants is her opposition to their status. Weiss lays the arch on the ground and reduces its scale to the size of a stone sarcophagus filled with water and moving image, with a sound environment located nearby. The context for Nirbhaya project is formed by two types of oppression – colonial oppression of cities and violence against women, although, as the artist suggests, Nirbhaya also functions as a site of rebirth, reflection and the preservation of living memory.
The artist’s project will be unveiled in two locations – at the Centre for Polish Sculpture in Orońsko, which is a national cultural institution financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and in the United States, thanks to the cooperation of the Streaming Museum in New York with production support from Lamar Johnson Collaborative, St. Louis/Chicago. Nirbhaya’s rendering and artist’s drawings in her series Two Laments, are featured in current issue of the Centerpoint Now, published by the United Nations on the occasion of its 75th anniversary.
The monument is accompanied by a Polish-English publication with texts by Griselda Pollock, Mark McDonald, Kalliopi Minioudaki, Meena Alexander, Buzz Spector, Weronika Elertowska, Katarzyna Falęcka, Eulalia Domanowska and with introduction by Maciej Aleksandrowicz. Editors: Halina Gajewska, Barry Keane. Translation: Izabela Suchan. Publication design: Irina Pavlova.
The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) offered fundraising sponsorship. The project received support from American Embassy in Poland, the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis and EMA Experimental Media Arts, University of Arkansas.
From March to May, 2021, CEL Center for Architecture & Design, St. Louis, has organized a series of six international panel discussions inspired by Monika Weiss’ Nirbahya monument. Panelists included artists, architects, historians and activists, moderated by Rick Bell.