Personal and family history. Trauma. Hidden and secret. That which is denied, forgotten, covered up / over. Impact of war, conflict, events, social conditions and political regimes upon people’s wellbeing, circumstances, identity and self, all these aspects of human existence, and it's inevitable obliteration inform the imagery within Monika K. Adler's still photography and artist's filmworks.
Deep and powerful, personal, encoded, cryptic, ominous and ambient iconography and symbolism. Made public, shared, maybe even enforced and inflicted. Open to, allowing, encouraging and provoking interpretation and other engagement. Production and end-result as therapeutic action. A constant state of cease-fire and false-security, both to the pleasant menace, but also the disturbing charm, which together are the magic.
Adler’s exact means of production remain mostly undisclosed, joining forces with the power and beauty of the mystery and enigma.
Adler deems every phase and aspect of her production and end-result to be a performance and therapeutic action, catharsis and exorcism; a profound process and experience; including working with and using other people as models and actors, enabling them scope for personal and artistic license and creative expression. Finalisation and conclusive state maybe actually cause or at least lead to emptiness — before then moving onwards to next and more. Much done and got across is unconscious, but there’s also considerable meaning, purpose, reason and control as well.
As for Adler’s family history, her Grandmother was a Holocaust victim, as well as a pioneering psychiatrist of women. The young Adler knew who Adolf Hitler was before even hearing much or even anything about Jesus Christ. Adler’s family suffered persecution under both National Socialism and Soviet State Capitalism. War stories stuck more in her mind than fairytales. Also during Adler’s childhood, she once staged a school presentation about the Holocaust. Another female family member, whilst pregnant during an invasion was murdered by occupying forces, then her newborn baby murdered after birth.
There is also a German and Austrian side of Adler’s family, who moved to Poland for business opportunities, from Bavaria and Munchen region of Germany and nearby Austrian Viertel, after Germany and Austria’s ruin in the wake of World War 1, treatise of Versailles and end of Austria’s monarchy etc. Also, Romany and Gipsy neighbours and relatives. So as a child, Adler bore the unholy trinity of a three-cross Calvary, as a German, Gipsy and Jew, in Poland.
Currently in production, Adler's first feature film, 'The Story of Marianne K' — loosely based on on a short story 'Beata Santa' written by Gustaw Herling-Gudzinski, but based in the Balkans / former Yugoslavia also relates to a figure from Adler's family history, a relative, Marta, who as a young woman witnessed and was the victim of much abuse and violation by the occupying Red Army, circumstances later repeated in more recent history in the “rape camps” in Serbia.
Yet Adler is not concerned with feminism. Whether in art, life, society or politics. Finding much of it single-issue, point-missing, dogmatic, reactionary, futile, counterproductive, stating-the-obvious and dated. That’s not to deny the importance of gender and power
politics to Adler. Adler addresses the controversial and disturbing theory and argument that victim status / role / function / rank is either actually freewill and chosen by people themselves — or somehow preordained by natural and cosmic orders.
Love and Death / Eros and Thanatos. Since childhood, Adler has witnessed, been surrounded and struck by much suffering, disease and fatality. Her grandfather’s final illness and death was only several years after her birth. These and other episodes figured strongly in her earliest dreams.
More recently, into her adulthood, Adler and her siblings had to care for their late mother during her death from cancer. The otherwise domestic Adler family home was transformed into a fully-functioning and equipped hospital. Also, acquisition and exercising of nursing and medical procedures were needed.
Also of note are certain episodes occurring in the same surrounding neighbourhood. A young mother’s dead newborn baby found abandoned in a garbage disposal outbuilding. A tragedy added to by the baby’s beauty. The unfortunate girl herself deliberately run over and killed by or on behalf of her family, in revenge for the stigma and disgrace.
A stray Labrador bitch which appeared just after her mother's death. Pregnant, about to give birth. A Litter of twelve puppies, of which the dog then killed ten herself.
Adler's work is characterised by that which is primal, timeless, pan-human, honest and universal. Intention, meaning, message, cause, agent and outcome — identification, exploration and acting as an exposé of multiple double standards.
Light / outburst / shadow / contrast / atmosphere / character.
The still image photography characterised by dialogue, exchange and intimacy; the film-works becoming a full-blown adventure.
© Copyright, Douglas Park, 2013