: From her Manhattan studio, artist Joan Jonas discusses her decision to begin staging performances in the late 1960s. As a child growing up in New York, Jonas's mother brought her to see performances such as Richard Wagner operas at The Metropolitan Opera and a George Balanchine production of "Afternoon of a Faun" starring Tanaquil Le Clercq. Describing her experiences of seeing operas and ballets in her youth, Jonas recalls, "Things like that make a big impression on you when you're young." For her own performances, Jonas invited artist friends such as Gordon Matta-Clark, Tina Girouard, and Pat Steir to abandoned lots and empty streets in Lower Manhattan where, while being filmed by artist Peter Campus, she would give them props and simple choreography to perform. "In a way we all helped each other and worked together and people really enjoyed being in other people’s works," says Jonas of her artist friends. "Everybody knew that that moment was special in the 60s and 70s." Four of Joan Jonas's earliest works are featured in this episode, including "Wind" (1968), "Songdelay" (1973), "Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll" (1973), and "Street Scene" (1976).
Working in performance, video, installation, sculpture, and drawing, Jonas finds inspiration in mythic stories, investing texts from the past with the politics of the present. Wearing masks and drawing while performing on stage, Jonas disrupts the conventions of theatrical storytelling to emphasize potent symbols and critical self-awareness.
Learn more about the artist at:www.art21.org/artists/joan-jonas
CREDITS: Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producers: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Ian Forster & Susan Sollins. Camera: Jarred Alterman. Sound: Richard Gin. Editor: Morgan Riles. Artwork Courtesy: Joan Jonas & Electronic Arts Intermix, New York. Archival Images Courtesy: Kino Lorber, The Metropolitan Opera Archives, The New York Times. 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.