4/27/11

JOAN JONAS



All I can think of anymore is how amazing Joan Jonas is. Last year I went to the Whitney Biennial and got to toy around a bit with her piece Mirage(1976/2005), which if you have never looked into you should. I especially think about this work in the context of current digital art and online images that make use of meta subjects. Jumps between haphazard drawing, benigne reference - that usually ends up being some kind of nonchalant greco indulgence - and trippy fades... it's no wonder that many people consider the current creative paradigm to be one of stupidity. The unfortunate thing is that so much of this work feels deeply personal and yet because of a lack of personal understanding the work fades away into a sea of formal unknowns and aestheticized wastes-of-time.

Anyway, Jonas includes imagery in her work that makes perfect sense right now in this generation, as it did at the time of its conception. What feels right is that the work has a level of criticality that I think questions the defining qualities of art markers and art thinkers. Maybe it's in the complexity in representing androgyny that really grips an interest from me, like something most post-wavers assume is a known and understood banality... I question this assumption. It's her ability to re-complex a cultural (and truly personal) banality that posits a subtle, and yet poignit, heavyhandedness that I respect. She makes poetry out of forms and movements and alter-ego and technology. Like she is a living user, a non-sexualized being that simply acts and reacts to percussions and re-percussions of acting. Theatrical nonsense... but not in a dada-sense.... in a Jonas-sense. Perfect Sense.

Bodies in motion, in time, in space, in captured lived experience will always be more complex.

yes.

Thinking about her also reminds me of that Maya Dern film I posted a while back, in that like Dern, Jonas accomplished a poetic harmony to her performance work that I feel many of her male contemporaries did not do. Jonas and Dern also share a fasination with the otherside of sexuality and ego, which I think echo's out into other generations of artists who I think pay ode to their poetics in ever more sublet ways. For instance in Alex Bags work Untitled Fall (1995) not only do questions concerning sexuality and pop-media arise, in what is a more explicite tone, but also her voice concerning criticality towards subjects of ego and soul-searching arch over the crude and lude explicates and subtly form into a fine gesture, one that feels as much about personal ownership as it does about the complexity of being a viewer of ownership.

I like to think that the assumptions one makes can be broken and re-formed... maybe they cause ego-shattering results but atleast something happens. This is maybe what I mean when talking about the unkown personal presences of images I see in abundance and daily. It's there, it just needs to be personalized but I think that it also needs to take on a new form. One that can encompass the same complexities of the lived experience and still use meta-imagery that we are all addicted to and love.

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