Joan Jonas

"Variations on a Scene"

with music by Alvin Curran

-) Originally a site-specific performance commissioned for Wave Hill, New York, a beautiful park overlooking the Hudson River just north of Manhattan. Five scenes took place in five different locations with the audience's relation to the action and viewing situation changing accordingly. Various texts were chosen for their relation to a representation of nature, how we see, how the Americas have been colonized, abused, polluted - and other texts were chosen because they represented for me the prevailing mood of the time.

A brief outline:

  1. The Tree: Action took place under and around a large beech tree. The audience sat all around. -) Texts by Fernando Pessoa, deTocqueville, and a Haitian love song from Eduardo Galleano's "Memory of Fire"
  2. The Pond: action on one side of a reflecting pond - the audience sat on the opposite side - text a fairy tale about pollution by Joseph Novotny.
  3. The Field: action occurred in the distance incorporating sound ideas that I developed in the seventies - texts by Fernando Pessoa, Bartolome de las Casas, and William Carlos Williams
  4. The Garden: the audience viewed the action from a balcony overlooking the garden. Text by Ana Ahkmatova
  5. The House: Performance took place in the house, the audience in the same large room - text by Eduardo Galleano


This piece was repeated in Centre d`art contemporain de Vassiviere en Limousin, France and in Podevil, Berlin indoors on a proscenium stage. The photographs are from the Berlin version in which I tried to represent in images and action the ideas of the outdoor version. Although not entirely successful, this attempt led to a further development in a work "Revolted by the thought of known places..." with music by Harry DeWit. I have chosen this work here because it is an ongoing project that could be repeated and transformed at any time. The rather loose, open structure allows the possibility of further discussion and collaboration and which interests me. Performers in New York: Jane Smith, Kiki Smith, Joan Jonas, Jorge Zontal and Alvin Curran.

France: Geno Lechner, Le Roi Jones, Joan Jonas, Alvin Curran
Berlin: Geno Lechner, Le Roi Jones, Joan Jonas, Aldo Lanzini, Renee Turner, Erich Schelow, and Alvin Curran


Joan Jonas, 112 Mercer St., New York, N.Y., 10012, USA. tel/fax - 001 212 9251575