Goddess zine

Self-published, 32 pages, available both as .pdf and a printed version of 47 copies.
Download the .pdf here Monko_Zine_screen

I published this zine, inspired by the visual language of fertility figurines of Paleolithic and Neolithic societies of Old Europe. According to Lithuanian-American archeologist Marija Gimbutas, these were the civilisations where feminine energy was believed to have a transformative power.

The fertility goddesses are mostly depicted with exaggerated breasts, buttocks or vulvas, and sometimes combined with the features of animals. The symbols of water and lunar cycles were used on everyday objects, in the temples and on tombstones. In this zine, I’m combining these representations of ancient societies with the depictions of female body, fertility, and reproduction from recent history and modern times.

I’ve been fascinated by these subjects for quite some time. It’s partly connected to my own aging, and observing the bodily and hormonal changes happening to me. On the other hand, living in the world dominated by masculine energy, with wars happening nearby I cannot help but dreaming of the egalitarian society with the absence of warfare, of the communities worshipping regeneration, living in harmony with nature, refining the technologies and material culture, such as the Neolithic civilisation introduced to us by Gimbutas.

R.H. Lossin. Capitalism and Psychoanalysis. Camera Austria no. 157, 2022

Qu Chang on Marge Monko’s Dear D (2015). Spike Art Magazine no. 66, winter 2020/21

Jeppe Ugelvig. Gabriele Beveridge and Marge Monko. Artforum, February 2022

Stephanie Bailey. Mixed Signals. ArtReview, March 2022

Stones Against Diamonds, Diamonds Against Stones

Design and construction of the vitrine: Kaisa Sööt

The installation consists of a vitrine that contains different elements: an iPhone, rocks, and photographs. The advertisement photos depict a female hand holding up a diamond and a birth control pill respectively. The gneiss rocks picked from the Tallinn seaside support a photograph of Greek prehistoric fertility statues and an iPhone displaying a birth control reminder app. The design of the vitrine is derived from the shape of a diamond. The title of the work is inspired by Lina Bo Bardi’s essay Stones Against Diamonds, from 1947, in which the architect and designer writes about her preference for semi-precious stones over gold, pearls, and diamonds. The installation seeks to reflect upon the battle of values in the global marketplace: luxurious lifestyle versus equal opportunities, individualism versus collectivism, (female) independence versus motherhood, etc.

Flawless, Seamless II

This site-specific work printed on half-transparent window film appropriates a photo from a hosiery advertisement by Cameo Stockings, circa the 1970s. Similarly to Flawless, Seamless I, it depicts hands as presentation tools to demonstrate the qualities of a product, in this case the elasticity and sheerness of the stocking. The carefully manicured hands in contact with the material also suggest a fair amount of desire embedded in the image.

Flawless, Seamless I

The work has been realised in different forms, both as a two-and three-piece banner printed on PVC and on air mesh. It appropriates a photo of an advertisement found in the book Photography in the Modern Advertisement (1937), demonstrating how to photograph stockings. The image depicts a woman’s hands showing the transparency and stretchiness of the material. 

The two-part banner version, printed on PVC mesh, allows the oversized hands to sensually communicate with the architectural environment that forms its backdrop. The scaffolding towers on which the two-part banner is installed are positioned at an angle to each other, so there’s only one viewpoint from where the image fits together. The banner created for the exhibition Display at PLATO, Ostrava, was exhibited indoors and consists of three parts, which can be moved to different angles. The installation includes a set of letters reading Sheer Indulgence. The letters are cut from reflective acrylic glass, and their custom design resembles curves of the female body.

Nora’s Sisters

Nora’s Sisters is a video that combines archive photos of Kreenholm Textile Manufacture (Narva, Estonia) and a voice over text from the play „What Happened After Nora Left Her Husband or Pilars of Society“ by Elfriede Jelinek. In this particular scene, Nora is warning female workers for the closing of the factory. Women are not taking her seriously because of their unshaken belief in the protection by social democracy. Their speech is a speech of slogans which corresponds to the pictorial language of Soviet propaganda, evident on the archive photos taken in Kreenholm during 1950s and 1960s. Kreenholm with it’s 12 000 employees was considered one of the biggest textile manufacturers in Soviet Union. In 2009 there were only 400 workers left and a large complex of factories was standing almost empty.

Red Dawn

The video documents an action of restoring the letters on the rooftop of a former hosiery factory in Tallinn. Punane koit (Red Dawn in English) was the name the factory had during the Soviet time. Despite its inherent reference to Communism, the name also alludes to a less visible poetic – hope, dreams of the better future and new beginnings.

Window On the Visible World

Through still and moving images, the film reflects upon the role of the window in architecture and visual culture. It is accompanied by voice over written and read by Marge Monko. A view from one’s window has been a recurrent motif in the history of visual art. Focusing on the legacy of the modernist architecture, the film draws parallels between the views from windows recorded in São Paulo and Tallinn. It follows different modes of images that equally serve as metaphors for the window – from engravings and paintings to virtual images on our computer and cell phone screens.