Joan Jonas’s pioneering approach to video is characterised by its fusion of performance with an exploration of the specific properties of the medium. Kernels of this approach might be traced in the films of artists working between the 40s and the 60s, such as Kenneth Anger and Jack Smith, who have been influential to Jonas.
This screening begins with Anger’s Puce Moment – which is playfully referenced in Veil, Jonas’s first film collaboration with artist Richard Serra – and Smith’s Overstimulated, both of which turn attention to the film frame using performative gestures in a domestic environment:
Early filmmaking came partly out of theatre and, of course, video followed film. When I worked with video, I always referred to film and the idea of film.
Jonas’s early approach to video was greatly informed by filmmaking and often involved performance in the intimate space of her home loft or a studio. The three videos in this programme propose an at-once inventive and insightful investigation of the video camera, signal, frame and monitor. They raise questions of mediated images of the body and explore the broader phenomenology of the video as a mirror. The programme’s title, Veils, refers to both the theatrical sense of costuming and to the technological sense of layering which intersect throughout the screening.
Introduction by Joan Jonas
Kenneth Anger, Puce Moment 1949, 16mm, colour, sound, 7 min
Joan Jonas and Richard Serra, Veil 1971, 16mm, transferred to digital, black and white, silent, 7 min
Jack Smith, Overstimulated 1959, 16mm, black and white, silent, 5 min
Joan Jonas, Vertical Roll 1972, video, black and white, sound, 20 min
Joan Jonas, Duet 1972, video, black and white, sound, 5 min
Joan Jonas, Left Side Right Side 1972, video, black and white, sound, 9 min