Joan Jonas and Video Art

I’m currently in a class called Contemporary Art and the Venice Biennale, an art history course that started the second half of the semester and will continue in Venice at the Casa Artom for two weeks to see the Venice Biennale (a huge international contemporary art exhibition that happens every other year). Now we are learning about biennales in general and the art and artists that will be exhibited at this year’s biennial. The artist representing the U.S. pavilion is a video and performance artist named Joan Jonas, and last week we started learning about her work. In watching examples of her video art, I began to think about what it meant for when film is considered an art form and the line where it turns completely into its own art medium. Joan Jonas’s video art is honestly just weird and I don’t think I’m a huge fan of video art in general; I find it difficult to appreciate. Film certainly has important aspects of aesthetics and artistic vision, but it’s main purpose is typically entertainment. While art’s main purpose is typically aesthetic, I was surprised by what Joan Jonas’s video art comprised of. Her works do not seem to show any effort of being visually pleasing, and the only way I could think of them in relation to film was that they are extremely extremely formalistic; I honestly just thought they would have more awareness of aesthetics. I realized, however, that film and video art can’t really be placed into the same category and they don’t have as much overlap as I thought there would be. These are just two of the examples of her work that we had to watch…they’re a bit painful and hard to get through, but interesting nonetheless:

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