From 2 October 2014 to 1 February 2015, Pirelli HangarBicocca presents Light Time Tales, a retrospective exhibition of works by Joan Jonas, a key figure in art for the past 50 years. Curated by Andrea Lissoni, the exhibition includes ten installations and nine single-channel videos, bringing together Joan Jonas’ most important works for the first time in Italy. These range from the most historic, such as Mirage 1976/1994/2005) and Volcano Saga (1985/1994), through to the more recent Lines in the Sand (2002), Reanimation (2010/2012/2013) and others that have never been seen before in Europe, such as Double Lunar Rabbits, (2010) as well as a new work specially created for HangarBicocca. The works are shown together with films and videos dating from the 1960s to the present day, including Wind (1968) and Merlo (1974).
Reanimation, a performance produced with the musician and jazz composer Jason Moran, will also be presented during the exhibition, offering visitors an opportunity to experience Joan Jonas’ intense performing tension. The exhibition will offer the general public an insight into the constantly evolving artistic career of Joan Jonas. A great experimenter, but always open to multi-disciplinary collaborations, she creates a personal artistic language that seamlessly interweaves video, installation and performance, creating a constant renewal of figurative art, with formal solutions that have become a model for subsequent generations including the young artists of today.
One of the first female artists to combine video and performance, Joan Jonas has since the 1960s explored the theme of identity and the relationship between the body and its representation, always avoiding any stereotyped image of herself. With a background in the history of art and sculpture, Jonas’ artistic language has developed through dance, experimental film, contemporary music, Japanese Noh and Kabuki theatre, and drawing. Her works contain a blend of personal memories and myths, magic and everyday life, poetry and psychoanalysis. She always keeps a close eye on other cultures, such as the Hopi community in the south-west of the U.S.A. or that of the ancient Minoan civilization.
Greatly influenced by various forms of literature, she uses mirrors, masks, costumes, veils and disguises to investigate codes of representation. She has worked intensely on the texts and translations of narratives in motion, closely studying sound in relation to time and space. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, she investigates video as an artistic medium capable of exposing the illusion of the story, revealing its mechanisms. Nature plays a major part in her ideas and is seen a constantly evolving world to be preserved and as a source of spiritual sustenance. Animals and urban and natural landscapes often play an important role in her works, offering the public an experience of emotional involvement, and expressing fundamental states of mind. At the same time, the interaction between past and present reveals an autobiographical trait and a reason to reflect on universal themes and on the state of the world today. Resistance to the classification of works of art as market commodities, the affirmation of a feminine vision, the need for co-operation, and a sense of conveying knowledge, all of which feature in Joan Jonas’s long teaching career, constitute a powerful political statement.