Pirelli HangarBicocca will present the first performance in Italy of Reanimation at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, 21 October. The work is a collaboration between the artist Joan Jonas and the jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran and will take place inside the exhibition Light Time Tales, by Joan Jonas curated by Andrea Lissoni (on view until 1 February 2015).
Reanimation will give the audience a unique opportunity to experience the latest and most intense performance by the artist, who will represent the USA at the Venice Biennale in 2015. For the first time, Reanimation will be held in the largest retrospective exhibition ever devoted to Joan Jonas, in a setting filled with thematic and formal allusions.
The event, to which admission is free, is part of the HB Public calendar of special events that Pirelli HangarBicocca organizes around each exhibition with the aim of promoting contemporary culture through all disciplines.
The performance – a variation of Reanimation (2010/2012/2013), one of the installations on display in the exhibition – is an open dialogue between the two protagonists and works on different tempos and rhythms around moments of pure musical improvisation. Jason Moran will perform live with a piano, a mixer and a drum machine, interacting both with the artist’s movements and with the changes of scene. In a kaleidoscopic movement of acoustic universes, visual projections, props and instruments brought to life by Joan Jonas, the performance retraces the source of the work – Under the Glacier (1968), by the writer Halldór Laxness – which narrates tales of glaciers and miraculous aspects of the natural world.
Jason Moran pieces together a score that starts out from the typical conversational form of jazz improvisation and leads into a vision of captivating sound sequences inspired by electronic dance music. Over Moran’s melody come the sounds made by Joan Jonas’s movements, involving bells, whistles and small horns she herself makes from toys and kitchen utensils, creating new acoustics.
Drawing plays a key role and is implied as a medium to interpret and amplify the relationships between her gestures and rhythms, as well as video technology. Adopting a method she has used ever since her first performances, the artist draws in front of the audience with rapid movements, often using just a single stroke: her movements, and the signs she traces out on a small blackboard, are filmed and screened in a complex play of cross-references and superimpositions that involve the entire scene.
Joan Jonas and Jason Moran began their highly successful venture in 2005, with a performance of The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things at Dia:Beacon (New York). Joan Jonas describes their partnership: “In a way, working with Jason is an experience rather like a jazz piece. It’s always similar but always slightly different. The music gives me energy and inspires movements, images and live sounds.”
Reanimation is linked to the installation of the same name which is on display in the exhibition, in the “Cubo” section of Pirelli HangarBicocca. The work was presented the first time in 2010 as a performance for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston and then, in 2012, expanded into the current version with Jason Moran, playing live, during dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel.
After the Milan event, the performance will be shown at the Louvre in Paris and then at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Joan Jonas (New York, 1936) is one of the most highly respected and acclaimed artists alive today. Considered to be the highest authority in the history and theory of performance, she first made a name for herself in the 1960s and 1970s with her pioneering performances and videos. Her work gives an absolutely original reinterpretation of the relationship between art and narrative forms, for together with video, sculpture and performance, she includes the word as a driving force of the imagination. Joan Jonas will be representing the USA at the 56th Venice Biennale, which opens in May 2015, with an exhibition presented by the MIT List Visual Arts Center. Currently a professor emerita at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Program in Art, Culture and Technology in Boston, she is the author of reference books on the performing arts. She has taken part in the most important group exhibitions of the past thirty years, including the Venice Biennale in 2009 and six editions of documenta in Kassel (1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 2002, 2012).
Jason Moran (1975, Houston) is a pianist, composer, and artist performer. In 2010 he was named a MacArthur Fellow and is currently Artistic Director of Jazz at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington D.C.). As well as many recordings with musicians of the calibre of Charles Lloyd and The Bandwagon trio (with drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Tarus Mateen), Jason Moran’s work includes an intense and lively series of collaborations with visual artists. These include Theaster Gates, founder of the non-profit Rebuild Foundation space, with whom he composed the music for Looks of a Lot, a performance presented in 2014 at the Chicago Symphony Center; Stan Douglas for the Luanda-Kinshasa (2013) video work, in which he is one of the performers; the conceptual artist Glenn Ligon, with whom he composed the soundtrack for the Death of Tom video (2008), and the American artist Joan Jonas. As well as on the Reanimation performance, the two have also worked on the music for The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things, performed for the first time in 2005 at Dia:Beacon, and for My New Theater: Reading Dante III (2008), which was shown in 2009 at the Venice Biennale.