Joan Jonas, Glass Puzzle, 1974. Single-channel video, black and white, sound, 17:27 min. Performers: Joan Jonas and Lois Lane. Music: The Liquidators. Camera: Babette Mangolte. Distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.
This complex and enigmatic single-channel video, in which we see Jonas and Lois Lane performing, explores female gestures, poses, the body, and narcissism. Mirroring each other with synchronized movements as they perform as alter egos, Jonas and Lane reference archetypal female gestures and poses from popular and traditional cultures. Throughout the video, space is dislocated and altered as a formal device—segmented by a swinging bar, superimposed in layers, transformed by subtle changes in light and shadow, or flattened by the video screen. With its evocative personal theater and idiosyncratic vocabulary of gestures, ritual, and symbolism, Glass Puzzle is a quintessential Jonas work. Jonas reveals a skillful layering of time and space that prompts the viewer to try to imagine all the different techniques used in the process of its staging and recording. Jonas later returned to this work in the installation Glass Puzzle (1974/2000).
“Glass Puzzle.” Electronic Arts Intermix. https://www.eai.org/titles/glass-puzzle
“Glass Puzzle.” In In the Shadow a Shadow: The Work of Joan Jonas, edited by Joan Simon and Joan Jonas, 194–97. New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2015.
“Joan Jonas, Glass Puzzle, 1973.” Tate Modern. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/jonas-glass-puzzle-h00008
Leaver-Yap, Mason. “Performing the Image: Joan Jonas’ Glass Puzzle.” Lux Journal, January 19, 2011. https://leaveryap.com/2011/01/19/performing-the-image-joan-jonas-glass-puzzle/
Contact prints by Babette Mangolte
Photographs of Lois Lane in Joan Jonas’s studio at the time of the filming of Glass Puzzle (1974), 1973.