"I didn't see a major difference between a poem, a sculpture, a film, or a dance. A gesture has for me the same weight as a drawing: draw, erase, draw, erase—memory erased."
The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) is proud to present Joan Jonas: Reading Dante III, a multi-media installation opening First Friday, October 1. Joan Jonas, who emerged in New York City in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a pioneer in video and performance art, will be performing Reading Dante II, a one-night event on Saturday, December 11th.
Inspired by her reading of Dante's 14th Century epic poem The Divine Comedy, Jonas has drawn on verses from all three canticas, the Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise to develop multiple iterations of her installation Reading Dante III and performance Reading Dante II. In these works, Jonas translates Dante's vision according to her perspective in the present moment. Both the medieval era of Dante and our own time, she has noted, are periods of extraordinary change.
For her installation Reading Dante III, Jonas layers many mediums and images to create an atmospheric environment. In the darkened gallery large-scale, white-chalk wall drawings, projected drawings, and intimate drawings displayed on table-tops coexist with video footage, benches, and paper lamps. In the simultaneously running videos—Reading Dante III, Street Scene Drawing, Drawing Dante, Medical Diagrams—Dante's verses are recited and integrated with depictions of performances and images. Jonas' use of a free-association method to create a personal, eccentric visual language brings her interpretation of Dante's work to life while allowing her viewers to simply experience the resulting work without too many preconditions.
The live performance Reading Dante II will be held at The Fabric Workshop and Museum on Saturday, December 11th, in a space specifically designed for this one-night show. Joan Jonas will be performing with her frequent collaborator Ragani Haas. Jonas states, "I call it Reading Dante because it allows me a great deal of freedom; I can enter the text."