MIT Announces Joan Jones as US Rep to Venice Biennale

  • CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts
  • /
  • April 15, 2014

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The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things, Joan Jonas, performance at Dia Beacon, 2005. Photo by Paula Court

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announces that the MIT List Visual Arts Center will present Joan Jonas as the representative for the United States at La Biennale di Venezia 56th International Art Exhibition, the world’s most prestigious contemporary art event. Jonas is a pioneering figure in performance art and video and is one of the most important contemporary artists today.  She will create a new multimedia installation specifically for the U.S. Pavilion in Venice, Italy, to be on view May 9–November 22, 2015.

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Jonas’ art developed out of her art history studies, and then expanded to performance and film in the 1960s through her involvement with the New York avant-garde scene.  Her work has been a major influence on contemporary art.  Jonas has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1998 and is currently Professor Emerita.  The U.S. Pavilion is curated by Ute Meta Bauer, a former colleague of Jonas’ at MIT who is currently the director of the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, and by Paul C. Ha, director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center who also serves as commissioner for the project.

For the five galleries of the U.S. Pavilion, Joan Jonas will create new, interrelated site-responsive installations—incorporating video, drawings, objects, and sound—that focus on, as she notes, “landscape and natural phenomena” and “the ocean as a poetic, totemic, and natural entity, as a life source and home to a universe of beings.”  Jonas herself shoots all the video, creates the sculptural and drawn elements, writes the script, and designs the soundtrack as well as the visitor’s overall journey through the interrelated elements of her multimedia, temporal work.

Ha said, “Joan’s voice and vision continue to be powerful forces in contemporary art, and I am proud that we will present her newest work in Venice, one of the most important venues to present art.  As I know from my encounters with her work, the experience will forever alter how visitors perceive visual art and understand how Jonas vitally constructs hers with a dynamic mix of sight and sound: sculpture, video, drawing, spoken and written text, and music.”

Joan Jonas (b. 1936, New York, NY, USA) lives and works in New York.  Her work encompasses video, performance, installation, sound, text, and drawing.  Since 1968, her practice has explored ways of seeing, the rhythms of ritual, and the authority of objects and gestures.  The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Jonas’ most recent solo exhibitions include those at HangarBicocca, Milan (forthcoming 2014); Centre for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu Project Gallery, Japan (2014); Kulturhuset Stadsteatern Stockholm (2013); Proyecto Paralelo, Mexico (2013); Contemporary Art Museum, Houston (2013); Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (2011); and Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010).  She has been represented in dOCUMENTA in Kassel, Germany, six times since 1972.  “Joan is incredibly respected in the international art world, and has been a major draw and influential teacher during her 15 year tenure at MIT”, said Philip S. Khoury, Ford International Professor of History and Associate Provost, who oversees the arts at MIT.

The Venice Biennale dates to 1895, when the first International Art Exhibition was organized.  It is one of the most important international biennials and cultural institutions in the world, introducing hundreds of thousands of visitors to exciting new art every two years.  The 56th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia (May 9–November 22, 2015) is directed by Okwui Enwezor, a curator, art critic, and writer, and the Director of the Haus der Kunst, Munich.

ABOUT THE U.S. PAVILION

The United States Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, a building in the neo-classical style, opened on May 4, 1930.  Since 1986, The U.S. Pavilion has been owned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and managed by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, which works closely with the Department of State and exhibition curators to install and maintain all official U.S. exhibitions presented in the Pavilion.  Every two years, museum curators from across the U.S. detail their visions for the U.S. Pavilion in proposals that are reviewed by the NEA Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions (FACIE), a group comprising curators, museum directors, and artists who then submit their recommendations to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  Past exhibitions can be viewed on the Peggy Guggenheim Collection website.

ABOUT MIT AT LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA

Joan Jonas’ exhibition at the U.S. Pavilion in 2015 will be the third Venice Biennale project the MIT List Visual Arts Center has presented, preceded by Fred Wilson: Speak of Me as I Am (2003) (commissioner Kathleen Goncharov) and Ann Hamilton: Myein (1999) (commissioners Katy Kline and Helaine Posner).  In addition, MIT alumna Jennifer Allorarepresented the United States in 2011 in Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla: Gloria, organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

 


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