Friday, October 30, 2009

Joan Jonas Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Guggenheim

On the occasion of the First Annual Art Awards, the Guggenheim is proud to honor Joan Jonas and Kasper Koenig with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their extraordinary contributions to the field of contem- porary art.

Joan Jonas
Over the course of four decades, Joan Jonas has created a consistently unique body of work, establishing herself as a pioneering force in the genres of body art, performance, and video art. Within this expanded field of production—which also includes the mediums of drawing, film, installation, photography, and sculpture—Jonas has systematically investigated the structures of time and space that govern our physical world, and the place of the perceiving subject within them. All the while she has also remained deeply engaged with the cultural realms of myth, folklore, and history, and how identity, especially feminine identity, plays a role in these constructions.

Getting her start in New York’s downtown art scene of the 1960s, Jonas—like her artistic peers—set out to rethink the status of the artwork in the wake of Pop art and Minimalism. Adopting the idea of art-as-process, Jonas turned to performance, systematically yet intuitively exploring every aspect of how live events could be structured. She moved outdoors, emphasizing the physical properties of sound and vision in real space, and used mirrors to reverse her audience’s gaze, turning spectators into spectacle. Delving into new technology, she forged bold paths for a phenomenology of video, in all its permutations. She donned costumes and appropriated folkloric traditions, unearthing forgotten archetypes of the feminine just as the women’s movement gained power. By the early 1980s Jonas had begun to create complex, nonlinear narratives premised on literary and historical texts, reaching back to medieval Icelandic sagas, the work of the poet H.D., and, more recently, the writings and biography of famed art historian Aby Warburg.

Jonas has been the subject of several major retrospectives organized by the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; and the Queens Museum of Art, Flushing, New York. She has performed and exhibited her work extensively, working internationally with institutions too numerous to list, and collaborating with such contemporaries as the Wooster Group. Most recently, she presented her multimedia installation Reading Dante at this year’s Venice Biennale to much critical acclaim.

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