Kulturhuset Stadsteatern is pleased to announce an exhibition dedicated to American artist Joan Jonas, one of the pioneers of performance and video art. Jonas’ 40-year body of work has been, and continues to be, internationally influential. The exhibition at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern is the first extensive presentation of the artist in Sweden, focusing on her ongoing piece "Reanimaton II".
Reanimation explores ideas about collages and animation and was originally produced for MIT in Cambridge, USA where Joan Jonas holds a professorship. It was shown for the first time in its finished form at dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, in 2012 in a pre-fabricated park in Karlsaue Park.
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 spiritual aspects of nature, focusing on a particular glacier, but as glaciers are now melting the work Reanimation reflects this present-day situation".
"Reanimation II" includes video, sculpture and drawings. In addition to this, Jonas will present a selection of earlier video works.
Born in New York in 1936, Jonas first studied sculpture, then modern poetry and Chinese and Greek, before finally obtaining her Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University in 1965. From the mid-1960s, her involvement with the New York avant-garde scene, at that time made up of such figures as Andy Warhol, John Cage, Allan Kaprow, Jonas Mekas, George Maciunas, the Fluxus group, and Bruce Nauman, led her to discover performance art. At the time, the art world was dominated by pop art and minimalism. Joan Jonas however, totally transformed the status of artwork by adopting the idea of art as a process.
Her performances were first set in exterior spaces in order to explore the full potential of the space and sound, as was the case in "Mirror Piece" in 1971. The same year, Joan Jonas introduced video into her work, as in the piece "Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy", which was later included in the performance by the same name the following year and signaled the artist’s definitive rupture or departure from the minimalist aesthetic. In this piece, the artist incorporated a reflection on folklore and the representation of female archetypes through costumes and masks.
Influenced by feminism, Joan Jonas’ approach is at once introspective, narrative and symbolic. In some of her pieces, the artist explores the role played by women on a universal dimension.
From 1972 and onwards, Jonas began once again to use the gallery space and continued to produce performances combining the videos, installations, sculptures, paintings, photographs and drawings that precede or extend the performance work, or whose themes are similar to those explored by her oeuvre, namely mythology, tales and cultural archetypes. Since the beginning of the 80s, Joan Jonas has sought new sources of inspiration and has turned to historical and literary texts based on Icelandic medieval sagas, as well as the work of female poet H.D., and more recently the writings and biography of the renowned art historian Aby Warburg.
Joan Jonas has been the subject of several retrospectives: currently at the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston (with Gina Pane), at the MoMA in New York (2009-2010), at Castello di Rivioli in Torino (2006), at the Queens Museum of Art in New York (2003), at the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart (2000), at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1983, 1994) and at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (1979).
The artist has been invited to participate in 7 editions of the Documenta in Kassel, including Documenta XI (2002) for which she re-performed Lines in the Sand (subsequently shown at the Tate Modern in London and at the Kitchen in New York in 2004). Joan Jonas is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and in 2009 received the Guggenheim’s first annual Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jonas will also take part in Theatrical Fields, at Bildmuseet, Umeå, on September 29, 2013–January 5, 2014, where she will perform "Reanimation" together with the Jazz pianist Jason Moran on September 25.