- “Joan Jonas on Organic Honey performances and videos, interviewed by Barbara Clausen, Kristin Poor, and Tracy Robinson, December 17, 2020 (Interview Transcript).” Joan Jonas Knowledge Base, Artist Archives Initiative, 2021.
The interview begins with Jonas discussing Organic Honey performances and the piece’s beginnings in general. She states that while the work did not have a conscious origin, she developed it after a trip to Japan in 1970 where she bought a Portapak camera and saw a lot of Noh drama performances [00:00–03:11]. Jonas then speaks about links between film and video, specifically how she dealt with these connections in the early 1970s in relation to her piece Vertical Roll [03:13–04:26]. Jonas also mentions cultural contexts for her work and being inspired by writing that described experiences of seeing Marilyn Monroe singing from different viewpoints [04:28–05:32]. This moves into a discussion about works by contemporaries, including dancers, that were important for her at this time and how the women’s movement played a role in the development of her Organic Honey character [05:39–10:08]. Jonas then takes us through the production of the score, which was not written out until the performances had reached a final stage. She also discusses materials and media that she used for the performance. Jonas states that her Organic Honey work developed by approaching it physically and intuitively, as she was constantly experimenting and putting things together in different combinations [10:12–13:31].
Moving on, Jonas speaks about the drawings and other images that she used in her performance and explains how she chose them [13:37–15:49]. She also takes a moment to speak about reading mythology and how that has impacted her work [15:50–19:35]. Following this, Jonas explains how she went from the making of Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy to the first performance at LoGiudice Gallery in New York in 1972 [19:45–25:27]. After the LoGiudice performance, Jonas went to the Festival di Musica e Danza in Rome to perform the piece, explaining how the piece changed a bit due to her traveling [25:31–27:48]. Jonas also talks through writing a script for Organic Honey that was eventually published in The Drama Review in 1972 and explains the decision process behind the sound and music in the performance [27:49–33:15]. Jonas then addresses some finer details, speaking about the different types of mirrors that she used in the beginning of the performance and in her opening piece Mirror Check [33:16–35:53]. Next Jonas touches on the creation of other single channel videos, including Duet, Anxious Automation, and Two Women. She addresses their relationship to each other and to Organic Honey, as well as the use of paper screens [35:55–44:06]. Jonas then describes the difference between her two performances Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy and Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll and how they evolved, noting that she took many elements from Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy into Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll [44:08–47:17]. The interview ends with Jonas explaining her decision to stop performing Organic Honey because she moved on to other pieces [47:18–49:05].