Robert Smart © 2013

“Born in Poland in 1982, Monika K. Adler grew up in an Eastern Europe suffused with memories as well as more tangible reminders of large-scale assaults on human bodies, particularly female bodies, motivated by ideology and ethnic hatred. From the Nazis, to the Soviet invaders (who victimised her grandmother’s cousin) to the rape wars of nearby Serbia, the history of the degradation of the body haunts the imagination of this brilliant young photographer and filmmaker. Yet her works are not exercises in feminist or political filmmaking, such polemics are too obvious and reductive, failing to capture the deeper reality that she seeks to evoke: a reality that eludes easy definitions and explanations and that perhaps derives from – or more likely informs – the unconscious mind of human beings.

The spectre of historical trauma, the manifestation of mystery and desire in the human body, the experience of women as objects and victims of outmoded and pernicious institutions which nonetheless continue to exercise an influence on our thoughts and behaviours, are just part of what Adler’s work addresses.

In Adler’s photographs both human beings and objects emanate a sense of abandonment or otherness, strange and liminal manifestations existing on the border between our familiar world and some mysterious and ineffable dimension not amenable to full disclosure or to rational discourse. Twilight glimpses of the troubled dreams that infuse our apprehension of this world if not a phantasm of another realm that at moments of extremity or disruption impinges on this one.”

From The Ambivalent Body: On The Short Films Of
Monika K. Adler, Robert Smart, 2013