Joan Jonas | Moving Off the Land II

Art Super Collectors Guide | Thiss.jpgJoan Jonas, Moving Off the Land, 2019, Ocean Space, Venice. Photo: Moira Ricci.

Joan Jonas’s exhibition Moving Off the Land II, artist represented by Raffella Cortese Gallery, centers on the role the ocean has played for cultures throughout history as a totemic, spiritual, and ecological touchstone. This project is the culmination of three years of intensive research in aquariums around the world as well as in the waters off the coast of Jamaica, commissioned by TBA21–Academy, an itinerant platform that forms part of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21). The exhibition was first inaugurated at Ocean Space in Venice in 2019 and comprises new video, sculpture, drawing, and sound works, as well as a performance to be presented at the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, on February 26, 2020.

Joan Jonas during the performanceJoan Jonas, Moving Off the Land II, 2019, Ocean Space, Chiesa di San Lorenzo, Venice, Performance with Ikue Mori and Francesco Migliaccio. Commissioned by TBA21-Academy, Photo: Moira Ricci. © Joan Jonas

Joan Jonas’s exhibition Moving Off the Land II conjures a captivating underwater universe in which the artist pays tribute to the ocean’s mythologies, biodiversity and delicate ecology. Comprising video installations partially produced whilst in residency at the Alligator Head Foundation in Portland, Jamaica, sound, drawing, sculpture, as well as a performance at the Museo del Prado Auditorium, this multi-layered exhibition enchants and simultaneously points to our current moment of ecological urgency.

Joan Jonas, Moving Off the Land II.jpgJoan Jonas, Moving Off the Land II, installation view at Ocean Space, Chiesa di San Lorenzo, 2019. Moving Off the Land II is commissioned by TBA21–Academy and co-produced with Luma Foundation. Photo Enrico Fiorese

Moving Off the Land II is the culmination of three years of intensive research and production by Jonas, commissioned by TBA21–Academy. In 2019, the exhibition inaugurated Ocean Space in Venice, a cultural embassy for the ocean led by TBA21–Academy. Its presentation at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza closes the cycle of research and production for Jonas’s seminal oceanic body of works.

Joan Jonas is one of the most renowned artists of her generation. She is celebrated for her groundbreaking work in performance, installation, and video since the 1960s. Ever since, her work has tackled complex questions regarding humans’ relationship with the environment. With this new body of work, she revisits the natural world and the animals inhabiting it as well as the present danger of climate change and extinction.

Stefanie Hessler, curator of the show, says

“Joan Jonas’s new works dive deep into the ocean water, swim with the fish inhabiting it and weave in literature and poetry by writers who have honed in on the liquid masses that cover two thirds of the planet.”

Jonas conveys her unique artistic universe and symbolism through sound installations, where the sound of sperm whales resonates throughout the space, and in a live performance comprising drawing, movement, video and a live score by Ikue Mori to take the audience on a magical underwater journey amidst a variety of aquatic creatures.

Joan Jonas Moving Off the Land II .jpgJoan Jonas, Moving Off the Land II, installation view at Ocean Space, Chiesa di San Lorenzo, 2019. Moving Off the Land II is commissioned by TBA21–Academy and co-produced with Luma Foundation. Photo Enrico Fiorese

The artist combines poetry and prose by writers like Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville with texts by Rachel Carson and Sy Montgomery, and with moving images filmed in aquariums around the world and in Jamaica, where algae bloom and overfishing pose urgent threats to the environment.

In the last year and a half, as part of a sustained dialogue about their respective work, the marine biologist and coral reef and photosynthesis expert David Gruber has shared with Jonas his captivating underwater recordings. In 2018, Gruber visited Jonas at her summer home in Cape Breton, Canada, where he shot footage of her dog, Ozu, on the shoreline. The rich imagery by Gruber and other collaborators is juxtaposed with Jonas’s own voice and that of young people she frequently collaborates with, as well as music by the celebrated composer and drummer Ikue Mori and by the acclaimed musicians María Huld Markan Sigfusdottir and Ánde Somby. In her unique visual language, Jonas has created a confluence of the poetic and the observational, of mythological folklore, contemporary narratives, and scientific studies, inviting viewers to plunge into a spellbinding experience.

Art Super Digital Collectoprs Guide | thyssen Bornemisza.jpgJoan Jonas, Moving Off the Land II, 2019, Ocean Space, Chiesa di San Lorenzo, Venice, Performance with Ikue Mori and Francesco Migliaccio. Commissioned by TBA21-Academy, Photo: Moira Ricci. © Joan Jonas

Joan Jonas (1936, New York) is a world renowned visual artist whose work covers a wide range of media: video, performance, installation, sound, text, and sculpture. The experiments and productions Jonas carried out in the late sixties and early seventies continue to be key in the development of many contemporary artistic genres, from performance and video art to conceptual art and theatre.

In 1968, the artist started to investigate ways of seeing the rhythms of rituals and the impact of objects and movement. Jonas has been the object of exhibitions, projections and performances around the world, in museums, galleries and major collective exhibitions such as the Taipei Biennale; documenta 5, 6, 7, 8, 11 and 13; the Sydney Biennale and Yokohama Triennale in 2008; and the 28th Biennale of Sao Paulo. Recently, she has been invited to put on several solo exhibitions in Jeu de Paume, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; CCA Kitakyushu, Japan; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; HangarBicocca, Milan; NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore; the United States Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale; and in the Tate Modern, London. In 2018, she received the prestigious Kyoto Prize that recognizes those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of mankind.