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This episode features Joan Jonas drawing in her Manhattan studio, and on stage at the Umeå Jazz Festival in Sweden. “Drawing is like practicing the piano, because the first ones that I do often don’t come out so I have to practice,” says Jonas who handicaps herself by attaching her ink brushes and oil sticks to long rods or branches.
“It’s almost accidental if they turn out.” While showing archived drawings of her dogs and an owl, Jonas discusses her interest in capturing an animal’s character through portraiture.More information and credits
Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Ian Forster & Susan Sollins. Camera: Jarred Alterman, Linus Andersson, and Amanda Björk. Sound: Richard Gin & Johannes Oscarsson. Editor: Morgan Riles. Artwork Courtesy: Robert Ashley, Electronic Arts Intermix, New York, Joan Jonas, and Performing Artservices, Inc. Special Thanks: Mimi Johnson. Theme Music: Peter Foley.
Art21 Exclusive is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; 21c Museum Hotel; and by individual contributors.
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A pioneer of performance and video art, Joan Jonas works in video, installation, sculpture, and drawing, often collaborating with musicians and dancers to realize improvisational works that are equally at home in the museum gallery and on the theatrical stage. Drawing on mythic stories from various cultures, Jonas invests texts from the past with the politics of the present. By wearing masks in some works, and drawing while performing on stage in others, she disrupts the conventions of theatrical storytelling to emphasize potent symbols and critical self-awareness. From masquerading in disguise before the camera to turning mirrors on the audience, she turns doubling and reflection into metaphors for the tenuous divide between subjective and objective vision, and the loss of fixed identities.
“Drawing is like practicing the piano, because the first ones that I do often don’t come out so I have to practice.”