Joan Jonas

Born 1936 in New York
Lives and works in New York


BA, Mount Holyoke College, 1958
MFA, Columbia University, 1965


A pioneer of performance and video art, Jonas works in video, installation, sculpture, and drawing, often collaborating with musicians and dancers to realize improvisational works that are equally at home in the museum gallery and on the theatrical stage. Drawing on mythic stories from various cultures, Jonas invests texts from the past with the politics of the present.

By wearing masks in some works, and drawing while performing on stage in others, she disrupts the conventions of theatrical storytelling to emphasize potent symbols and critical self-awareness. From masquerading in disguise before the camera to turning mirrors on the audience, she turns doubling and reflection into metaphors for the tenuous divide between subjective and objective vision, and the loss of fixed identities.

Among her many honors are awards from Anonymous Was A Woman (1998); the Rockefeller Foundation (1990); American Film Institute’s Maya Deren Award for Video (1989); Guggenheim Foundation (1976); and the National Endowment for the Arts (1974). Jonas has had major exhibitions at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, Stockholm (2013); Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2013); Documenta (2002, 2013); Performa (2013); The Kitchen (2012); Bergen Kunsthall (2011); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); Venice Biennale (2009); Dia:Beacon (2006); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (2006); Jeu de Paume (2005); Renaissance Society (2004); Tate Modern (2004); Queens Museum of Art (2003); Taipei Biennial (2002); and Dia Center for the Arts (2000), among others.

–  text courtesy of Art21



Museum of Modern Art, New York
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Tate Modern, London