Raffaella Cortese is pleased to present the first solo show in the Milanese gallery by acclaimed American artist Joan Jonas.
Reading Dante IV draws inspiration from Dante's fourteenth-century Divine Comedy, a reoccurring topos of Jonas's work since 2007. Each performance and installation becomes increasingly layered as the work transforms and develops. The first installation and performance of Reading Dante was at the 2008 Biennale of Sydney. Later that year Jonas performed the work at the Yokohama Triennale, and also performed a reading at The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, from which filmed excerpts are now incorporated into the current Dante video. Jonas was featured in the International Pavilion of the 2009 Venice Biennale where she installed Reading Dante II. Most recently, the artist presented Reading Dante II at the Performing Garage in New York as part of Performa '09, and selected elements of this performance are featured in Reading Dante III and reviewed in the Italian Reading Dante IV.
Jonas translates the medieval allegory, borrowing small fragments of the text and greatly reinterpreting the story through performance, sound, drawings, video and installation. The artist dynamically visualizes the journey of the characters, merging their experience with her own through footage of travels and performance. The plethora of elements employed by Jonas, which initially may seem disparate, collectively form a complex, choreographed, and imaginative vision in the artist's personal aesthetic language.
Joan Jonas (b. New York, 1936) is a seminal figure in American post-war contemporary art. The artist works in several mediums including: performance, installation, video art, sculpture, filmmaking, photography and painting. She received her BA from Mount Holyoke College in 1958 and her MFA from Columbia University in 1965. Jonas currently teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 2009 the artist was awarded the Guggenheim's first annual Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jonas has had retrospectives at the Queens Museum of Art, New York (2003), Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart Germany (2000), and at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1994). The artist has been represented in Documenta V, VI, VII in Kassel, Germany. She was commissioned to develop an installation and a subsequent performance entitled Lines in the Sand for Documenta XI. It was recreated at the Tate Modern in London, and the Kitchen in New York in 2004. Jonas has also exhibited in solo shows or performed at institutions such as: Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna, Austria; Dia:Beacon, Beacon, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain; Le Plateau and Jeu de Paume/ Hotel de Sully, Paris, France; Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.