‘Joan Jonas: What Is Found in the Windowless House Is True’
The centerpiece of Joan Jonas’s solo exhibit at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise — now at its new location in a four-story building in Harlem — is an installation that positions the viewer in a space bounded on all sides by four video projections. Landscapes and domestic scenes play out on large translucent screens that, seen from the back, radiate shifting patterns of colored light. The walls are lined with paintings and drawings; an immersive musical collage plays on a loudspeaker; glass pendants chime against each other in the center of the room; and, at the periphery, two smaller video pieces play on separate consoles, their own soundtracks blending with the music that otherwise fills the space.
An influential visual and performance artist who divides her time between New York and Nova Scotia, Jonas has always been a restless, eclectic figure. In addition to that installation, What Is Found in the Windowless House is True includes a selection of sculptures, carvings, and found objects; models of houses; “body drawings” Jonas produces by tracing herself with charcoal or paint; drawings of birds; an arrangement of three other videos; a ceiling lined with kites; and footage of Jonas’s recent performances, in which she dances, draws, sculpts, and plays music onstage. It’s a revealing survey of the wide range of subjects that preoccupy Jonas — Noh theater; Sámi music; Icelandic literature; experimental New York performance art; the Nova Scotian landscape — and a testament to the fact that, at eighty-one, she’s kept experimenting with new and original forms.
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