Joan Jonas

(b. 1936)

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(1936– )

American Performance and Video artist, born in New York. She studied art history, sculpture, and drawing. While working as a gallery secretary she saw Happenings by Claes Oldenburg and Performance work by Robert Morris. Her own first performance was in 1968. Her work has made considerable use of mirrors. In Mirror Piece 1 (1969) fifteen women moved around carrying full-length mirrors which reflected the audience rather than themselves. This was a way of bringing the audience into the piece but it can also be interpreted as a work of feminist art, in that the woman is no longer seen, as in classic representations, gazing into the mirror, but is controlling the reflection. Another feature of Jonas' work has been elaborate costume. In Organic Honey she dressed up in pink chiffon, a feathered and jewelled headdress, and a mask. Some of her work refers to the rituals of the Hopi and Zuni tribes of the Pacific Coast where she grew up.

Further Reading

J. Simon, ‘Themes and Variations’, Art in America (July 1995)

Subjects: Art.

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