2018Arts and PhilosophyArts (Painting, Sculpture, Craft, Architecture, Photography, Design, etc.)
Joan Jonas photo

Joan Jonas

  • U.S.A. / July 13, 1936
  • Artist
  • Professor Emerita, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

An Artist Who Pioneered New Artistic Expression by Integrating Performance Art and New Media, Remaining at the Forefront of Contemporary Art for 50 Years

Ms. Jonas created a new artistic form by integrating performance art and video art, and has evolved her original medium at the forefront of contemporary art continuously. Creating labyrinth-like works that lead audiences to diverse interpretations, she hands down the legacy of 1960s avant-garde art by developing it into a postmodern framework, profoundly impacting artists of later generations.

Profile

Brief Biography

1936
Born in New York City, U.S.A.
1958
B.F.A. in Art History, Mount Holyoke College
1958–1961
Studied sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
1960s
Interacted with various artists such as Robert Raushenberg,
Claes Oldenburg, Trisha Brown, John Cage, and so on.
1965
M.F.A. in Sculpture, Columbia University
1968
First public performance at St. Peter’s Church, New York
1972
Began using video in performance
1994–1998
Professor, State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart
1998–2015
Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2015–
Professor Emerita, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2015
Represented the United States at the 56th Venice Biennale

Selected Awards and Honors

1989
Maya Deren Award, American Film Institute
2009
Lifetime Achievement Award, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Memberships
American Academy of Arts and Letters, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Selected Works

1972

Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy (video performance)

1972

Vertical Roll (video)

1976/2000

Mirage II (video)

1977

Three Tales (installation)

1980

Double Lunar Dogs (video performance)

1985

Volcano Saga (video performance)

2002

Lines in the Sand (performance + installation)

2004/2006

The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things (performance + installation)

2010/2012/2013

Reanimation (performance + installation)

2015

They Come to Us without a Word (performance + installation)

2016–2017

Stream or River, Flight or Pattern (installation)

Achievement

An Artist Who Pioneered New Artistic Expression by Integrating Performance Art and New Media, Remaining at the Forefront of Contemporary Art for 50 Years

In the early 1970s, Ms. Joan Jonas established a new artistic form by integrating performance art and video, and has since devoted her energies to evolving and adding sophistication to this form. Her remarkable achievements have earned an esteemed reputation and respect as a pioneer in the field of contemporary performance art and video art, and as an active artist who has been pursuing exciting relationships between performance art and new digital media.

After studying art history and sculpture, in the late 1960s Ms. Jonas built relationships with many artists in her native New York. After participating in workshops by Trisha Brown and Lucinda Childs, who later became mythic figures in postmodern dance,    Ms. Jonas was inspired to create her own original works based on body. From the 1970s onward, her works have featured a nonlinear structure without stories, with clear focus put on body and process, as well as diverse elements. Her remarkable long-term achievements also include her contributions in handing down the greatest legacy of 1960s avant-garde art represented by John Cage to future generations by developing it into a framework of postmodern art based on additive, diverse values.

Her Vertical Roll (1972), highly regarded as an archetype in the history of video art, integrated an actual performance with its real-time video screened on a TV monitor onstage. This work featured a revolutionary structure of coexistence of a live performance and its represented image, with a discrepancy in time and space between the audience’s viewpoints and camera angles, as well as the effect of electrical delay within the system. Since its release, the work has been studied and referred to by many artists. The masterpiece Reanimation (2010/2012/2013) in recent years, made with multiple layers of an endless series of diverse elements, is a labyrinth-like work filled with the nature and mythology of Iceland, along with drawings, sounds, and segments of her own earlier art. Ms. Jonas’ works contain a very contemporary narrative structure that encourages audiences to decode the works in their own original ways and achieve a wide variety of interpretations, including misinterpretations, rather than forcing them into a single prepared interpretation.

Since 1998 Ms. Jonas has also taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, winning respect as an educator of character, and has had an immeasurable impact on artists over subsequent generations.

Lecture

Abstract of the Lecture

Workshop
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