Spaces in Motion

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Video and performance work intersected early in their respective histories as artists used the increasingly inexpensive alternative to film to document events. But in 1972, one of the foundational convergences between the two media was also one of the most radical for both. Rather than using it as a documentary medium, Joan Jonas's work, Organic Honey's Visual Telepathy, was among the first to incorporate video into a live performance, pairing a group of closed-circuit displays with a series of mirrors. The combination had a doubling effect in the performance, famously creating an alter ego for the artist, but it also marked the first of many times that Jonas would use video to define the space in which her performances were enacted, a watershed move that did much to pave the way for the contemporary video installation. The first Spanish retrospective of Jonas's work, at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona from September 20th through January 7th, brings together films, single-channel videos, drawings, and photographs that track her output from the 1960s to the present, but the show is focused around a series of four large-scale video installations that simultaneously evoke different stages in her career. They chart her contributions in thematic and formal threads rather than strict chronology, an appropriately hybrid presentation for an artist who routinely crosses media and has helped to forge at least one new one.

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