Portrait of Pola Weiss

Born in Mexico City in 1947, Pola Weiss studied journalism and mass communication at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, graduating in 1975. During this period she began producing programs for public and commercial television. She quickly developed an interest in the artistic possibilities of video technology and, in 1977, produced her first work, Flor cósmica (Cosmic flower), which was exhibited at the 9th Encuentro Internacional de Videoarte at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil in Mexico City. In 1978 her Ciudad Mujer Ciudad (City woman city) was included in the inter-national exhibition Salón 77/78: Nuevas tendencias at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City. Much of Weiss's work consisted of unflinching examinations of the body, identity, and femininity.

Weiss was also deeply invested in exploring the creative and communicative potential of video, as exemplified by her neologisms "arTV" and "teleasta" (the latter a play on the word cineaste). She experimented with the formal qualities of this technology—delving into a psychedelic aesthetic, particularly through chromatic manipulation—while insisting on the promise video harbored to democratize the reception of art. Weiss was also a trailblazer for her development of the concept of videodanza: strapping the camera to her body, she singularly integrated video, performance, and dance.

Although today Weiss is widely credited as the pioneer of video art in Mexico, during her lifetime she enjoyed very little exposure or recognition in her country. Her work, however, was shown internationally, most notably in France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Italy, in the 1979 and 1984 Venice Biennales. In 1987 she was honored at the Montbéliard Festival in France. Weiss committed suicide in 1990. At the time of her death, she had produced more than thirty-eight video works.

—Mari Rodriguez Binnie

Selected Videos

1977 Flor cósmica

1979 Autovideato

1979 Videodanza vida videodanza

1980 Fin Venusina renace y reforma: Retroalimentación

1986 Mi Co-Ra-Zón

Selected Bibliography

Debroise, Olivier, ed. La era de la discrepancia: Arte y cultura visual en México, 1968–1997 / The Age of Discrepancies: Art and Visual Culture in Mexico, 1968–1997. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Turner, 2006.

Hernández, Aline, Benjamin Murphy, Edna Torres, and Pola Weiss. Pola Weiss: La TV te ve / TV Sees You. Mexico City: Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2014.

Hernández Miranda, Dante. Pola Weiss: Pionera del videoarte en México. Mexico City: D. Hernández Miranda, 2000.

Historia de mujeres: Artistas en México del siglo XX. Monterrey, Mexico: Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, 2008.

Weiss, Pola. "La TV te ve." Artes visuales, no. 17 (Spring 1978): 19–20.