Joan Jonas : Volcano Saga +Drawing Languages (Wilkinson Gallery, London)

Joan Jonas : Volcano Saga +Drawing Languages (Wilkinson Gallery, London)
Joan Jonas // Volcano Saga, Installation, Queens Museum of Art
Queens, New York, 2003-04 // photo : Ari Hiroshige

October 10 until November 20, 2011 // opening reception : Saturday October, 15 // 18h until 21h // Wilkinson Gallery // London, UK

Wilkinson Gallery launches two concurrent exhibitions with the internationally acclaimed artist, Joan Jonas. In the Lower Gallery, Jonas will present Volcano Saga, 1985/1994, one of the most important installations existing from the artist’s oeuvre.

"I see Volcano Saga as the beginning of my synthesizing the development of female character, the story as mirror, and the volcanic landscapes as representation of narrative. Here, Iceland, was the connection of the psyche to the elements. As in “Wind”, the elements become character. I chose as my story the 13 th Century “Laxdaela Saga”. This story is about a woman who married four times. The book begins with a historical account, tracing the characters’ ancestry, then continues with the woman, Gundrun, who tells four dreams to a seer who then interprets the dreams. The second part of the saga involves the actual marriages and the carrying out of the prophecy. A film crew recorded the landscapes on video. I photographed it, and on returning to New York, I developed a solo performance with video and slide projections of the different mostly volcanic landscapes that for me represented parts of the story – the four dreams. I finally turned the live performance into a 30-minute narrative for television broadcast, with Tilda Swinton playing Gundrun and Ron Vawter playing the seer Gest. I developed a way of telling the story in video with the foreground shot in the studio against the Icelandtic landscapes as backdrops. Gundrun tells her dreams to Gest as they sit together in the hot springs – a beautiful blue lagoon with wond, mist, and black volcano rock. Sitting in the steamy blue made the relationship of the characters in the story erotic. I liked this added level of closeness in relation to our own ideas about how and when we tell our dreams to others, and how they are interpreted. To frame the story in the present I began the tape by telling my story of an accident that actually happened, in which my car was blown off the road by the wind. Otherwise I played a small part. The tape ended with an old couple talking about how the fishing net was invented. By a woman, probably, they say."

- Joan Jonas in Joan Jonas : Performance Video Installation, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2001

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