The Sixth Borough (2010)

The installation PHAOS by Monika Weiss is a poetic investigation of the relationships between place and memory. Greek word “phaos” (light) is etymologically related to “phantom” (illusion, unreality). The project implies a possibility of an alternative reality coexisting with the palpable reality of a given space. Composed of sound environment, projected video and floor sculpture from found objects, books, and drawings, the installation is inspired by and alluding to the journey on the Ferry, both towards the Island, and back towards Manhattan’s mainland.

Upon entering the installation, viewers hear sounds of water and motor-like machine sounds mixed with human voices, whispering, singing or reading texts. The many layers of sound overlap and erase each other, creating an ambient and abstract sound composition reminding the viewers of their journey towards the Island, and potentially blurring the division between the inside (Room) and the outside (River).

Small objects cover the main floor and include books and maps published before 1945 as well as military objects such as field phones. Among them are small-scale drawings created by the artist with graphite on original maps and pages torn out of the old books. In the two adjacent rooms there are 2 single channel video projections showing views of the journey towards and from the Island. Images of the River overlap with close-up views of book pages, documents, military object and the interior rooms of the House 404. In another sequence we see the artist, dressed in black, curled up and lying upon the floor sculpture as she draws around her body, leaving marks and traces of charcoal and graphite. The open books and maps in the installation are thus marked with a new layer of abstract meaning.