Barbara Clausen interviewed by Kristin Poor, August 11, 2020.
Barbara Clausen is the Curatorial Research Director for the Joan Jonas Knowledge Base. This interview focuses on Jonas’s Organic Honey Archive, which Clausen included in exhibitions she curated at Museum of Modern Art Foundation Ludwig (MuMOK) in Vienna in 2005 and at the Phi Foundation in Montreal in 2016.
- “Barbara Clausen interviewed by Kristin Poor, August 11, 2020 (Interview Transcript).” Joan Jonas Knowledge Base, Artist Archives Initiative, 2021.
The interview begins with Clausen explaining how the first presentation of the Organic Honey Archive came about at the show After the Act: The (Re)presentation of Performance Art, at the Museum of Modern Art Foundation Ludwig (MuMOK) in Vienna during 2005 and again in 2016 at the Phi Foundation in Montreal, Canada [00:00–05:25]. Clausen speaks about the selection process and whether or not there were some materials that she decided to exclude, explaining that she and Jonas made a very conscious decision in 2005 to not include any of the “final videotapes,” or video works [05:27–07:38]. This turns into a conversation about the kinds of discussions she would have with Jonas in regards to selecting and presenting these pieces that have not been viewed in thirty years, or at all [07:40–11:02]. Moving on, Clausen talks about the show’s openness of interpretation, explaining that there was a small wall text discussing the material of Joan Jonas’s archive, but there was no further mediation of the work in that sense. Clausen also reveals there was a symposium with the same title, After the Act, which included a conversation between Jonas and Babette Mangolte on the history of their work together [11:03–12:42]. Clausen points out that some people felt critical about it, suggesting a curatorial intervention into artists’ archives is a moment when the archival materials become commercialized. Poor then asks Clausen if there was ever a discussion around using these kinds of documentary photographs of earlier performances as a kind of commercialization of the performance [12:43–16:25].
Next, Clausen speaks about how the presentation of the archive changed and evolved for the exhibition in Montréal, over ten years later [16:26–18:08]. This segues into an explanation of the process of selecting materials a second time around, stating that one of the most striking differences was that Jonas was more involved from an artistic point of view. For example, Jonas was very thoughtful about the color of the walls [18:09–24:22]. Clausen also takes a moment to describe how the videos were installed and how the decision not to include the raw footage was made [20:06–24:22]. Poor then asks Clausen if she thinks Jonas would consider the Organic Honey Archive to be an installation and if the work could go on to become a set installation in a way that Mirage and Organic Honey have over the years [24:23–26:43]. Clausen points out that Jonas owns all of the pieces in the collection and it is something she refers back to, specifically the photographs that Jonas acquired from the photographers. This turns into a conversation about acquisitions and whether Jonas might be open to an individual or institution acquiring the Archive and how it would change [26:43–30:10]. The interview ends with Clausen noting that photographic documentation should be seen as an integral part of Jonas’s practice and Jonas consciously collaborated with the best in the field to photograph her work [30:13–32:35].