Joan Jonas

(USA) b.1936

Lives and works in New York

From the mid-60s, Joan Jonas’ involvement with the New York avant-garde scene, at the time made up of such figures as John Cage, the Fluxus group, Simone Forti, Claes Oldenburg, and Yvonne Rainer, led her to discover performance art. Joan Jonas totally transformed the status of the artwork by adopting the idea of art as a process. Influenced by feminism, Joan Jonas’s approach is at once introspective, narrative and symbolic.

Jonas presents a video installation Reanimation II at TB2014. The work is a variation of a project she began to develop in 2010 and exhibited for the first time in its finished form at Documenta (13), Kassel, in 2012. The entire work is based on the novel Under the Glacier by Icelandic writer Halldór Laxness, published in the 1960s. As Jonas says, the book “is partly an homage to the spiritual aspects of nature, focusing on a particular glacier, but as glaciers are now melting, the work Reanimation reflects this present-day situation.”

For the installation at TB2014, Jonas designed “imaginary walls” out of paper, based on Japanese shoji screens made of paper and wood, “so the audience could step into the space instead of being kept outside,” as they were for the version at Documenta (13). In this way, the viewer has an intimate, concentrated encounter directly with the video and sound.

Jonas is a professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and in 2009 received Guggenheim’s first annual Lifetime Achievement Award. She has had solo exhibitions and presented performances at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1974); The Kitchen, New York (1975); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1976); Kunstmuseum Bern (2004); and Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2008). Jonas has also been included in international group exhibitions, including Documenta in Kassel, Germany, six times since 1972. In 2009, she exhibited for the first time at the Venice Biennale. In 2015, Jonas will represent the United States of America pavilion at the Venice Biennale. 

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