Joan Jonas, Vertical Roll, 1972
Joan Jonas
Vertical Roll

Joan Jonas (*1936, USA) is a pioneer of performance art. She developed her own style combining film, video, drawing and movement. In the 1960s, she was influenced by Robert Morris and Yvonne Rainer and discovered the mirror as a symbolic tool for self– reflection and a technical tool for fragmenting space. Her works critique the male gaze at the naked female body — a gaze that is conditioned by art history. During the 1970s, Jonas developed her glamorous alter ego ‘Organic Honey’ before she began using literary sources in her works. In 1976, she retold a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm in "The Juniper Tree"; and for "Lines in the Sand" (2002), she examined a poem by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle). Her influence on the history of video performance has been honoured in the first decade of the 21st century with solo exhibitions in several major museums. She represented the United States at the Venice Biennale 2015.

In this well-known early video tape, Joan Jonas manipulates the grammar of the camera to create the sense of a grossly disturbed physical space. This space functions as a metaphor for the unstable identity of the costumed and masked female figure roaming the screen — Joan Jonas’ alter ego ‘Organic Honey’ —, negotiating the rolling barrier of the screen’s bottom edge.

Courtesy Video Data Bank, Chicago

Document media
Video, b&w, sound, 19:37 min

Issue date

Yvonne Rainer (RAI 1)

fragmentation, gaze, sound