Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review : Joan Jonas at Tate Modern – 14th March to 5th August 2018

Exhibition Review : Joan Jonas at Tate Modern – 14th March to 5th August 2018

Tate Modern presents an exhibition by American artist Joan Jonas who is best known for her work in performance art. The exhibition is part of a wider exploration of the artist’s work which will also include a  ten-day live performance programme in the Tanks which will feature live performances by Jonas herself, and a film retrospective in the Starr Cinema.

The exhibition at Tate Modern is spread over two levels and charts Jonas’s artistic career from her early work in the New York’s downtown arts scene to her more recent works.

Jonas was inspired by other culture’s rituals and performances and began to incorporate filmed performance pieces into her work. Jonas started using masks after going to Japan and seeing Noh theatre, animal masks in particular are a constant theme of her work over five decades. The exhibition includes a section of the artist’s masks and props.

The pieces in the Tanks entitled Reanimation illustrate Jonas’s interest in light and reflection.

Mirror Piece which will be performed in live performance was one of the artist’s early performance pieces and plays with idea that mirrors can be mysterious and can create tension from viewers whose reflections become part of the performance.

The Lines in the Sand and Juniper Tree provide evidence of the way the artist often brings disparate media together to create an installation. The Juniper Tree 1976/1994, uses 29 wooden balls, a ladder, a kimono to retell a Brothers Grimm fairytale. Lines in the Sand 2002, reworks the myth of Helen of Troy to reference contemporary political events.

Various video pieces entitled My New Theatres are placed in a large wooden box with a bench at the end which creates a different kind of space to watch the film. This idea of distorting the viewing experience is repeated in a number of installations like Stream or River, Flight or Pattern 2016-2017. 

This unusual and entertaining  exhibition pays tribute to one of the pioneers of performance art. Whilst Jonas follows some of the traditional art of storytelling, in other ways she likes to distort the narrative with music, images and masks. This exhibition and the series of events at Tate Modern will introduce Jonas to a wider audience and will give visitors an opportunity to understand why she is considered a pioneer of performance, video and installation who has influenced generations of younger artists. 

Video Review available here 

Visiting London Guide Rating – Recommended 

For more information or book tickets , visit the Tate Modern website here

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