Pioneering artist to visit Northwestern

Yaqoob Qaseem, Assistant A&E Editor


Joan Jonas, a pioneer in video and performance art, will speak at Northwestern on Oct. 10 as part of NU’s Art department Visiting Artist Program.

She is one of the most prominent living American artists, said art Prof. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. Jonas’ visit is particularly valuable at this time, as she is representing the United States in the Venice Biennale, said Christov-Bakargiev, who has known Jonas for about 30 years. The Venice Biennale is an international art exhibition in its 56th year.

“I learned so much about art from her and much of actually my own work as a curator, I think, is inspired by her way of working,” Christov-Bakargiev said.

Jonas said her piece for the Venice Biennale explores questions of children, animals and the climate.

“I wouldn’t say my work is political, but it does deal with issues that are very important in the contemporary world,” Jonas said. “My work is more like poetry.”

The artist’s visit will involve a lunch and lecture open to the public. The day before, Jonas will visit the graduate students’ studios and hopes to provide insight to both art students and the public audience.

“Maybe they could get some insight into the function of art in the world,” Jonas said. “It gives pleasure on all levels to people. Art and culture is an area that is so important for our spiritual well-being.”

Jonas was the first person to use video in the field of art, in a manner more like painting or sculpture than a narrative story, said Matt Martin, program assistant for the art department. The department has started to bring in more significant artists like Jonas, he said.

“It’s incredibly valuable, even outside of an art context, speaking to someone that has a totally different view on life and art,” said Craig Neeson, a Master of Fine Arts student.

Neeson said he is looking forward to meeting and speaking with Jonas.

“Primarily my goal is not to be a starstruck idiot,” Neeson said. “The gravity of her work is really undeniable, whether you like it or you dislike it.”

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