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Joan Jonas

Artist 144 Joan Jonas Gender Identity Photography

Joan Jonas (born 1936) is an American visual artist who is considered a pioneer of video and performance art. She is one of the important female artists to emerge in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She investigated the themes of the self and the body.

Jonas' projects and experiments provided the foundation on which much video performance art would be based. Her influences also extended to conceptual art, theatre, performance art and other visual media.

In 1968 Jonas began mixing performance with props and mediated images,often situated outdoors in urban or rural landscapes and/or industrial environments.

Between 1968-1971, Jonas performed Mirror Pieces, works which used mirrors to as a central motif or prop. In these early performances, the mirror became a symbol of (self-)portraiture, representation, the body, and real vs. imaginary, while also sometimes adding an element of danger and a connection to the audience that was integral to the work.

In her video performances between 1972 and 1976 she created her seminal alter-ego invented as an "electronic erotic seductress," whose doll-like visage seen reflected bits on camera explored the fragmented female image and women’s shifting roles.

She created drawings, costumes, masks, and interactions with the recorded image were effects that optically related to a doubling of perception and meaning.

Jonas described her work as androgynous; earlier works were more involved in the search for a feminine vernacular in art, she explains, and, unlike sculpture and painting, video was more open, less dominated by men.

By restaging early and recent works, Jonas continues to find new layers of meanings in themes and questions of gender and identity that have fueled her art for over thirty years.


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