At Bergen Kunsthall
, Joan Jonas presents a new version of an ongoing series of installations under the title Reading Dante. The series, on view until March 27, 2011, began in 2007 and each new version incorporates elements from the preceding ones. In Reading Dante Jonas reinterprets the journey of the soul through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven following Dante Alighieris epic The Divine Comedy. By way of her distinctive shamanistic visual language Jonas offers an idiosyncratic approach to one of the most important works of world literature.
The project is not an attempt to illustrate the text; it is rather a personal translation of Dante into a visual language where central elements and symbols from Jonas visual vocabulary (mirrors, masks, dogs, cones etc.) enter into and shape their own narrative in the light of the artists overall oeuvre. In an earlier grand-scale series of this type, The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things (2004-2007), Jonas let the art historian Aby Warburg function as a pivotal figure, as Dante does in Reading Dante. Jonas reads both these figures in the light of our own time. The fourteenth-century Middle Ages (Dante) and the early twentieth century (Warburg) were both periods that underwent serious upheavals. According to Jonas the same can be said of our own time.
The exhibition is part of an annual collaboration between Bergen Kunsthall and the Borealis Festival
, where central contemporary artists who work in the field between music and visual art are presented.
Joan Jonas (b. 1936) lives and works in New York. She is a very important figure in American post-war art, and has had a long succession of exhibitions all over the world, including retrospective solo exhibitions at the Queens Museum of Art, New York (2003), Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart (2000) and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1994). She has been represented at central exhibitions such as Documenta V, VI, VII and XI. She teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 2009 she received the Guggenheims first Lifetime Achievement Award.