Collection 1940s–1970s


Joan Jonas’s ​​Mira​​​​ge

Joan Jonas. Mirage. 1976/1994/2005. Six videos (black and white, sound and silent; duration variable), props, stages, and photographs, dimensions variable. Gift of Richard J. Massey, Clarissa Alcock Bronfman, Agnes Gund, and Committee on Media Funds. © 2019 Joan Jonas
  • MoMA, Floor 4, 418 The David Geffen Galleries

Mirage began in 1976 as a performance at New York’s Anthology Film Archives, in which Jonas used film, video, drawing, and props to evoke new—yet obscure—rituals. In 1994, the artist reimagined the work as an installation—of sculptural elements, chalkboard drawings, videos, and documentation of the performance—which she reconfigured again in 2005, as you see here.

At the heart of Mirage is the concept of transformation. In one video, Jonas draws again and again, erasing part of a sun to create a new moon; she calls this an “endless drawing,” after a funerary rite of a New Guinean tribe, believed to help the deceased transition to the afterlife. The artist’s emphasis on turning one thing into another can also be seen in the use of positive and negative images and in the recurrence of forms, as with the towering cones that echo nearby imagery of an erupting volcano. Such play with symbols, including a hopscotch grid, reflects Jonas’s ongoing interest in the repetition and ritualism of games.

Organized by Ana Janevski, Curator, Department of Media and Performance, and Erica Papernik-Shimizu, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance, with Ana Torok, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints.

1 work online


Installation images

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