A pioneer of video and performance art, Joan Jonas is internationally recognized as one of the most accomplished figures in contemporary art. Her diverse art practice encompasses video, film, multi-media, performance, dance, installation, sound, text, and drawing.
Jonas’s work focuses, as she describes it, on “issues of space – ways of dislocating it, attenuating it, flattening it, turning it inside out, always attempting to explore it without ever giving to myself or to others the permission to penetrate it.” Initially trained as a sculptor, by the late 1960s she had fully immersed herself in performance art. During this period Jonas completed her first film work, WIND (1968), in which a group of performers in mirrored costumes battle strong gusts of wind on a snow-covered beach.
By 1970, Jonas had begun staging her performances outdoors, incorporating distance and sound into her works to draw attention to how perception is altered by space, and eventually translating the ideas of these performances into her second and most celebrated film work, SONGDELAY (1973).
Since the mid-1970s, Jonas has continued to create formally innovative and wholly unique video works, some of them in collaboration with figures such as Spalding Gray, Jill Kroesen, Tilda Swinton, Ron Vawter, and others. These two programs showcase Anthology’s brand-new preservations of WIND and SONGDELAY, which have long been unavailable in their original 16mm format. They will be presented alongside Jonas’s other 16mm films (two of them made in collaboration with Richard Serra), as well as an additional program selected from among Jonas’s later video works. Both programs will be presented by Joan Jonas!
These programs are co-presented by Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI).
WIND and SONGDELAY have been preserved by Anthology Film Archives through the National Film Preservation Foundation’s Avant-Garde Masters Grant program and The Film Foundation. Funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.
WIND (1968, 5.5 min, 16mm, b&w, silent)
Cutting between snowy fields and a raw seashore, Jonas focuses on a group of performers moving through a windswept landscape. Shot at silent speed but projected “fast” at 24 fps, the film evokes early cinema, while the stark landscape, the use of long takes, and the invisible subject matter – the wind – situates it squarely within Minimalist Art of the late 1960s.
PAUL REVERE (1971, 9 min, 16mm, b&w. Made with Richard Serra.)
A didactic work inspired by the structure of the educational film, PAUL REVERE deals with the nature and limits of communications systems.
VEIL (1971, 6 min, 16mm, b&w, silent. Made with Richard Serra.)
Inspired by Kenneth Anger’s PUCE MOMENT, VEIL is a performance work in which Jonas refers to the cinematic device of the “wipe.” Jonas suggests this effect not with technology, but through her performance. In a six-minute loop, Jonas slowly unveils layer upon layer of richly patterned fabrics – silk, velvet, fur. Ultimately, she reveals her face underneath.
SONGDELAY (1973, 18.5 min, 16mm, b&w)
Performing with a ‘cast’ that includes artist Gordon Matta-Clark and dancer/choreographer Steve Paxton, Jonas utilizes a language of gestures, sounds, and edits in a highly original film work that evokes a fragmented view of a NYC urban landscape that is never fully revealed.
MIRAGE (1976, 31 min, 16mm, b&w, silent)
“For MIRAGE I made a film of drawing, again and again, images on a blackboard, and then erasing them. Reading the essays collected in Spiritual Disciplines, I got another idea to use drawings, also in MIRAGE, which I called ‘Endless Drawings’ after those described in the Melukean Book of the Dead, the tribal ritual book of New Guinea. There it says that in order to go from one world to the next you must finish a drawing in sand which an old lady, the devouring witch, begins at the boundary between life and death.” –Joan Jonas
DUET (1972, 4.5 min, b&w)
In this seminal exploration of the phenomenology of video as a mirror and as ‘reality,’ Jonas, face-to-face with her own recorded image, performs a duet with herself.
ORGANIC HONEY’S VISUAL TELEPATHY (1972, 17.5 min, b&w)
Based on her 1972 performance of the same name, this video finds Jonas performing as herself and as her masked double, Organic Honey. Dressed in a feathered headdress and costumes, Organic Honey is the embodiment of artifice, masquerade, and narcissism – a female alter-ego whose guise is a frozen doll’s face.
DOUBLE LUNAR DOGS (1984, 24 min, video. With Spalding Gray, Joan Jonas, Jill Kroesen, John Malloy, and David Warrilow.)
Inspired by the science fiction story “Universe” by Robert Heinlein, DOUBLE LUNAR DOGS is an Orwellian vision of post-apocalyptic survival aboard a drifting spaceship whose timeless travellers have forgotten the purpose of their mission. To recapture memory and create a continuum between their unknown origin and uncertain destination, the characters in this disjunctive, philosophical narrative play metaphorical games with words and archetypal objects.
VOLCANO SAGA (1989, 28 min, video. With Tilda Swinton, Ron Vawter, and Joan Jonas.)
Based on the thirteenth-century Icelandic Laxdeala Saga, this narrative reverie is a televisual retelling of a medieval myth about a young woman (Tilda Swinton) whose dreams foretell the future. Shot in the dramatic natural landscapes of Iceland and in NYC, this performance-based work uses ancient dream analysis as a starting point for a densely textured tale, in which the young woman’s interpreter (Ron Vawter) hears her dreams and sees their meaning.
More info and full schedule at: http://bit.ly/JoanJonasPreservations