The first time she presented a video was during the IX Encuentro Internacional and I Nacional de Video Arte at the Museo Carrillo Gil in 1977. This festival was organized by Jorge Glusberg from the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAYC) from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Apart from Pola Weiss, among the participants were Nam June Paik, Shigeko Kubota, Less Levine, Leopoldo Maler, Juan Downey and Amerigo Marras.
Flor Cósmica, her first video art piece was screened in this event and Pola was able to meet with Nam June Paik and Shigeko Kubota again.
After this and throughout the following 11 years, Pola would produce 38 video art pieces and would participate in approximately 46 exhibitions presenting performances, video dance, as well as works in video in Mexico, Europe, Venezuela and Argentina.
Among her most outstanding videos are those from the 70’s: Ciudad Mujer Ciudad, Somos Mujeres and her experiments in video dance: the triad Xochimilco, Papalotl and Videodanza.
Unlike the feedback work in Flor Cósmica, the video Ciudad Mujer Ciudad makes an analogy between women and the city, one with a water shortage. Vivian Blackmore, the video’s model, is naked and dances sitting down while inserts of city images succeed each other; she also seems to conduct the urban chaos, while Pola’s voice says:
“There is no water, my mouth is dry, but I contain water, because I cry… All our rivers have been obstructed, there used to be so much water it was more than enough. No, there is no water. Now its water and earth, plain mud…”
Pola also published a presentation flier where art theorist Juan Acha analyzes the visual challenges faced by the artist in the creation of Ciudad Mujer Ciudad:
"Pola Weiss, Teleasta. Invitation in French to Pola Weiss’ video presentation at the Pompidou Center, sponsored by Difusión Cultural UNAM, design by María Shelley and photograph by Víctor Blanco."
“In the case of the tape Ciudad-Mujer-Ciudad, its author Pola Weiss faces several challenges which she meets through an artistic-televisual approach. But we would want to refer to the one we consider the most important and outstanding: Is the succession of her images cinematography or not?
We refer to the narrative succession which results from the fact that the film begins with allusions of dawn and ends with denotations of dusk. (This is clearly an efficient effect that forces us to vertebrate figures, losing their visual intent). Video art in itself implies the succession of images whose basic concepts derive from cinema and must be used with televisual specificity. To achieve this (still in formative process, we repeat), most televisual artist resort to abstract painting or else to the antinarrative coldness of "underground" and conceptual art." ¹
Acha recognizes the challenges faced by an incipient art in Mexico that had been developing in the United States since the middle of the sixties, with pioneers such as Nam June Paik y Bill Viola.
Apart from Acha, many years later Mónica Mayer, curator of an exhibition of Mexican women video artists, writes the following about Ciudad Mujer Ciudad in the exhibition brochure:
"Pola feminized the issue by disrupting the idea that woman equals nature and man civilization. She presented the body as metaphor of the city and the city assumed as performance: we live the city and it lives us." ²
In Somos Mujeres, which was also produced in 1978, the video artist sought to portray the life style of indigenous women in the city by using an arbitrary zoom, unsteady shots (without a tripod), combined color saturation and psychedelic shapes. In reference to this, Jorge Carrasco quotes Pola, who explained her reasons to create this video:
"I was extremely upset by the concept I obtained from a poll on the Marías ³ because although I don’t belong to a feminist group, I feel compelled to assume a class position as a woman. And as such I feel responsible for saying things from a feminine point of view. Men are present in my works, but if you look carefully, they always share a woman’s point of view, her desire for liberation and the need to present her demands" ⁴
By 1979 she created Autovideato –a self-portrait in video- that begins with a text dedicated to Polito, her father, to whom she explains her difficulty to express herself with words because:
"The way I see and hear has changed. My language is now different. I have seen life in another way. I don’t have dolls anymore, now I have a new toy: my camera, my pet and we have done…. well, I want to tell you the first part of my story…"
With this piece Pola begins doing autobiographical works and several of her videos will reflect moments of her life. Other artists in the seventies also did this, for video allowed them to create a kind of self-portraits in movement.
As of the beginning of the 80’s, and having become the “first Mexican in the Museum of Modern Art ⁵ in Paris, Pola began an uphill career as a video artist and throughout the decade would produce at least three videos a year, running a total of 38 finished works.
Since Pola’s work is vast, I will limit myself to the analysis of her most outstanding work from the 80’s: Mi Corazón.
² Mayer, Mónica. (2010). Video a la mexicana. Ayuntamiento de Vitoria-Gasteiz, Centro Cultural Montehermoso.
³ Translators Note: Marías is the term used in Mexico to refer to indigenous women, particularly those who work as street vendors.
⁴ Carrasco, Jorge. (2000). Pola Weiss: La videoasta olvidada. Consulted in 2012, at www.etcetera.com.mx.
⁵ Pola wrote this in her 1979 travel journal, after the presentations at the Pompidou Center.
I Nacional de Video Arte. Museo Carrilo Gil, December 1977.