Joan Jonas: Drawings | Art21 “Extended Play”


[Joan Jonas: Drawings] [SOUND OF DOG TOY SQUEAKING] I don’t think that you could ever really capture what it’s like for an artist to be
alone working on their work in the studio; I don’t think that’s possible. It’s always a set up, you know? I mean, I got dressed in a certain way, and I wanted it to look nice. I cleared up the mess. You know… It’s just a very different situation. I’m not interested in having my private moments
truthfully represented– at all, because I don’t think it’s possible. I do this kind of work a lot– in this case, experimenting with how these
drawings are just going to come out if I do them very
fast, with this particular tool and this ink. So, it’s almost accidental if they turn out
or not. [“Reanimation” (2012)] When I perform for the audience, I’m in another
mode– another world. There’s two categories of drawings: drawings I do in performances, and drawings I do just in my studio. Drawing is like practicing the piano; because the first ones that I do often don’t
come out, so I have to practice and do it over and over again until I get what I like. So I have an owl that I got in Nova Scotia. And so I started drawing this owl. I’m interested in the mask-like quality of
an owl’s face. But, it’s not in my work; it’s just part of my drawing archive. [“Celestial Excursions” (2003)] Robert Ashley asked me to choreograph a movement and visual element for his opera,
“Celestial Excursions”. [Robert Ashley, Composer] So one of the things I did was make a lot of drawings like this, very fast. And they’re kind of approaching a cartoon-like
method. [“In the Shadow a Shadow” (1999)] I did, for many years, make drawings of my
dog, Xena. I drew her a lot because she interested me; she was very strange looking. I haven’t started drawing Ozu yet. Poodles are difficult to draw because they
all look alike. I began to draw my dog with the “Organic Honey”
piece. [“Organic Honey’s Vertical Role” (1973)] I was telling stories referring to myth, [“Melancholia” (2005)] and for me, the dog is in the same way that a horse is involved with a myth as being
a helper– or a cat. So for me, the dog is the animal helper. So that was the way I justified having the
dog. But then I just simply because interested
in drawing this image over and over again, and making portraits. If you make a portrait of somebody, you have something about their character,
of course. So, I’m interested in getting that quality
into the other drawings, otherwise I don’t think they’re very interesting.

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