press release

Joan Jonas (New York, 1936) is one of the earliest and most innovative practitioners of Performance Art. In the late 1960s, moving away from sculpture, Jonas began using reflective surfaces to transform her works into a place of encounter between spectator and artist. Using these materials, she created a choreography of gestures and actions that suggest myths and still to be discovered rituals, as well as a temporal expansion of the work of art. Using mirrors glued to their clothing or held in their hands and moved, the artist-performers fragmented the visual space into a myriad of different viewpoints. Reflected in the mirrors, the spectators became part of the works in a vertiginous and multiplied space. Jonas presented her first performances in galleries and places not associated with art, such as gymnasiums, lofts, and abandoned urban spaces, or in outdoor spaces such as beaches.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev writes: ”Jonas has always been interested in the ways different cultures have expressed themselves, and she has drawn on as varied elements as the Japanese Noh theatre, the Hopi Snake Dance, European fairy tales and Greek mythology. Her unique performances mix ritualized actions with the use of sculptural props and other transitional means through which she has explored the relations between reality and its reflection, the real and the imaginary. Soon afterwards, in 1972, Jonas replaced the mirrors with video cameras which made live recordings of the performers, and then re-projected their images during those same performances, as live feed-backs. [...] During her performances, Jonas the performer often interacts with her projected image, thus disrupting classical boundaries and doubling perception and levels of reality and fiction. [...] With masks and other props, and through the reflections of the live feed, she explored the female image as a fragmented identity as well as women’s shifting roles in a series of works which positioned feminist and psychoanalytical issues at the forefront of art. By the mid-1970s, Jonas had begun presenting installations of sculptural props, drawings and videos (both projected and on monitors), including recorded material from her own previous performances, without necessarily involving her physical presence in the work, and still today she alternates performance work and installation.” For Rivoli, the artist performs a new version of her piece Crossed Waves (2003). In galleries 37 and 38, of the third floor of Castello, two installations of videos, and sculptural elements both document and recollect as autonomous artworks her performances Mirage (1976) and The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things (2004-2006).

Presentation curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

This exhibition presents works by “classic” conceptual artists such as Joseph Kosuth and Lawrence Weiner, artists like Dan Graham, who have worked in different directions, developing a conceptual analysis of perception and experience, and other artists, not traditionally defined as “conceptual,” such as Joan Jonas and Susan Hiller, who instead have worked within the context of performance, installation art and the exploration of the mysterious and less rational side of the mind. The exhibition is organized into five solo shows: Lawrence Weiner (March 28 – July 30), Susan Hiller (April 11 – July 30), Dan Graham (April 29 – July 30), Joseph Kosuth (May 16 – July 30), Joan Jonas (May 30 – July 30). Each solo show includes historical works alongside more recent or new projects by the artist. With the support of the CRT Foundation for Modern and Contemporary Art, seven of the exhibited works will become part of Castello di Rivoli’s permanent collection.


only in german

Concetto, Corpo e Sogno / Concept, Body and Dream:
Joan Jonas
Kurator: Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev