Fondazione Antonio Ratti

Joan Jonas, Matt Mullican

Workshop on Workshops

20 November 2015
FAR – Villa Sucota

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Joan Jonas (b. 1936 New York) lives and works in New York. She is considered a pioneer of video and performance art emerging in the late 1960s. Her influence is crucial to the development of many contemporary art genres; from performance and video to conceptual art and theatre. Throughout her long artistic career Jonas tirelessly explores the female subjectivity, employing a complex repertoire including gestures, self-representations and images in movement. Her oeuvre is distinguished by a vast repertoire of themes and expressions which, starting with her first self-reflective works – in which the artist worked around transformations of her own body – and leading all the way to her recent creations connected with an investigation into texts and the story, examines reality and its representation. Her artistic practice is based on intuitive forms of assembly and superimposition, and utilizes elements taken from epic poetry, fables and short stories which, though drawn from specific cultures and time periods, take on a universal valence.

Jonas has received numerous honours from various institutions including: The Guggenheim Foundation (1976) and The Rockefeller Foundation (1990); as well as recognitions like the CAPS Award (1971 and 1974), the Deren Award given by the American Film Institute (1989), and the Anonymous Was A Woman Award (1998). She has held solo shows and performances at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1994), Queens Museum of Art in New York (2004), the Dia:Beacon in New York (2005), Castello di Rivoli (2006) and at MACBA in Barcelona (2007). The artist has also participated in numerous group shows over the past thirty years, including the 2009 Venice Biennale and various editions of Documenta in Kassel (1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 2002, 2012). In 2015 Joan Jonas has represented the United States at the 56th Venice Biennale. Recently Joan Jonas was made Professor emerita at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston.

Matt Mullican (b. 1951, Santa Monica, California) lives and works between Berlin and New York. Active since the early 1970s, Mullican is a pioneer in the use of hypnosis in contemporary art. For over four decades he has focused on creating a vocabulary and a system of signs and symbols that offer a polyhedric vision of the universe. It is a classification system that divides all subject matter into the “Five Worlds”, each corresponding to a different level of perception. Mullican’s work is an incessant probing of the relations between reality and perception, in his ongoing attempt to explain and give a structure to every aspect of the human condition. His work also features performances and videos, including what was the cutting-edge use at the end of the 1980s of computers to generate imaginary virtual worlds.

The son of Luchita Hurtado, a Surrealist painter from Venezuela, and of the American painter Lee Mullican, Matt as a child moved from California to Venezuela, to New York, to Rome, to finally return to California. Mullican cites his extensive travels at an early age as a great influence on him and his work. Through experiencing places like Pompeii and studying his parents' collection of Oceanic and tribal art, he became interested in the cosmologies reflected in anthropological objects.
In 1974, he received his BFA from CalArts (California Institute of the Arts), one of the most innovative artistic communities in the United States, where he met David Salle, James Welling, Troy Brauntuch, and Jack Goldstein, all students of John Baldessari.

Mullican’s work has been exhibited in many international venues, including: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1998); Kunsthalle Basel, Basel (2001); Tate Modern, London (2007); Haus Der Kunst, Munich (2011); Kunsthalle Mainz, Mainz (2013); Camden Arts Centre, London and The Kitchen, New York (2016); HangarBiccoca, Milan (2018). He has participated in several collective exhibitions among which: Whitney Biennial, New York (2008); Singapore Biennial (2011) and 55. Venice Biennale. Mullican has taught and lectured at: Columbia University, New York; The Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam; Chelsea College of Art and Design, London; University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg.

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