Joan Jonas in Fundación Botín Santander

 

 

Joan Jonas: flow or river, flight or route, in Botín Foundation (Santander) from 25 June to 16 October 2016, is the first exhibition of the artist in Spain since the retrospective of the MACBA in Barcelona in 2007, and always it is a good time to regain her committed, brave and absolutely personal work. "The performance art is the tool I use to build an object that exists only in time, which is reflected with my body. For me, performance art is a kind of three-dimensional poetry created live in space", as she assured in an interview.

 

 

 

Joan Jonas (New York 1936) is a pioneer in the performance art, experimental film and video installation, and presents in Santander a multimedia installation conceived specifically for the space of the Botín Foundation and in which the artist reflects about the complex relationship human being with nature and the environment, a constant theme in her career as research from other cultures and rituals (specifically, Jonas is an expert on Kabuki and No Japanese theater).

 

 

 

The exhibition, curated by Benjamin Weil, artistic director of the Center Botin, also includes a selection of videos documenting five of the most important performances of the artist: Lines in the Sand (2002); The Shape, The Scent, The Feel of Things (2004-2006); Reading Dante (2007-2010); Reanimation (2012); and They Come to Us without a Word (2015). This set of works gives visitors a unique perspective of the creative universe of this key figure of the New York avant-garde of the late sixties and early seventies.

 

 

 

 

She has participated six times in the Documenta in Kassel, she represented US in the last Bienal of Venice and she has received numerous awards worldwide. She teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since 1998, and is Emeritus at MIT Program Arts, Culture and Technology, within the School of Architecture and Planning. It is an honor to meet her in Spain.

 


 

Among the specialised professional profiles that we find in the cultural sector, and more specifically, in the field of visual arts, one of the most recent occupations is that of the curator. The ‘80s put attention on the role of the artist, with its innovative character and the enhancement of its figure as an essential articulator of creative proposals, while the end of the century moved the interest towards the exhibition centres themselves and their work as custodians of current production and as spaces to accommodate all proposals. The change of millennium strongly introduced in this panorama the role of the curator. Perhaps together with a social identity crisis, perhaps with the complexity that contemporary projects are currently acquiring, the need for building, articulating and delving into artistic discourses became evident.

Although the functions entrusted to this profession are not entirely new, since previously they belonged to conservatives, critics or experts according to the themes, the role has gained solidity because it combines all these purposes while allowing the specialisation of other professionals in their fields of competence. Now, as some curators themselves point out, the genuine spirit of this figure, who was born to facilitate the understanding of the discourse, create narratives within a sometimes chaotic and scattered context, mediate between the works and the spectator and create bridges between contemporary art and society.

The art of our day raises a multitude of unknowns for the visitor who must face proposals many times away from the aesthetic standards, which gives way to uncertainty and confusion; but, in turn, these works employ a closer language, materials and even compositions detached from the sophistication and the technical display of yesteryear, something that, far from favouring proximity to the message, generates some distancing. What we have just described is part of the very essence of current art. The questioning of the formalist guidelines and the recourse to tangible elements that are more utilitarian than embellishing are the new criteria of creation, where, above all, the message to be conveyed stands out.

Likewise, another inherent characteristic of the work of our time is the artists' concern for more immediate themes, for social, political and economic issues that seek to create a narrative and conceptual revulsion, leaving behind the aesthetic priority or, rather, making of the message its own aesthetic. In this context, strange as it may seem, contemporary creation encounters a linguistic barrier hindering the viewer's understanding. And to this circumstance, the abundant current production is added, covering a wide range of themes that are nothing more than a transcript of our diverse and globalised society.

The curator helps to facilitate this understanding by articulating a coherent discourse that allows the grouping of related ideas to set up the message. This requires to have an in-depth knowledge of the current state of the art, the lines of work of the creators, the most recent aesthetic proposals and the real demands of society to bridge the dialogue and allow the approach to art. If art deals with the same issues that concern us all, how can we not share its postulates? Cultural mediation requires the work of the curators to open a small window for reflection and to enable a space for exchange and idea generation. We share the thought that José Guirao expressed in a recent interview: "The curator is someone who reveals something new, and it would be a mistake for curators to become managers."

Understood this way curator’s role, many institutions have joined the trend of creating specific calls for new professionals to give light to their proposals. Let us remember, as an example, the call "Unpublished" of La Casa Encendida, or "Curator wanted", of the Community of Madrid or the call of Curating of La Caixa.