Lynne Cooke interviewed by Barbara Clausen and Kristin Poor, March 20, 2020
Lynne Cooke is the Senior Curator for Special Projects at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Previously, she was the deputy director and chief curator at the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid from 2008 to 2012 and the curator at the Dia Art Foundation from 1991 to 2008. Cooke is the curator of Joan Jonas’s The Shape, The Scent, The Feel of Things (2005), a performance commissioned by Dia Art Foundation and presented at Dia:Beacon in 2005 and 2006.
- “Lynne Cooke interviewed by Barbara Clausen and Kristin Poor, March 20, 2020 (Interview Transcript).” Joan Jonas Knowledge Base, Artist Archives Initiative, 2021.
The interview begins with Cooke talking about her relationship to Jonas, seeing her work for the first time at the Whitechapel Gallery in London in the late 1970s, and then meeting her towards the end of the 1980s when they were both living in New York [00:00–1:38]. Cooke then describes the process of beginning to work with Jonas, first seeing shows at the Queens Museum and in Stuttgart and then inviting Jonas to be included in the performance program at Dia [1:39–3:24]. Moving on to past exhibitions, Cooke shares other prior retrospectives she saw, specifically when she participated in Documenta and presented Lines in the Sand [4:47–8:11]. The conversation then turns to the timeline of the Dia commission and production; Cooke shares that Jonas would come to Dia:Beacon to photograph the construction, which would later play a part in her performance [8:15–9:53]. Cooke also describes working with Jonas onsite and the conversations the two of them had at Beacon [9:54–14:10]. This evolves into speaking about Jonas wanting to set the performance in the basement and how the technology aspects of the performance (screens, audio, etc.) would work in the space [14:14–15:25]. Clausen then asks Cooke if there was an exhibition element joined to the performance [15:30–16:16], and if she could speak about Jonas’s relationship with Jason Moran and his role, wondering if the use of sound was something that was also of interest to Cooke as curator [16:20–18:41].
From here, the conversation turns towards programming and how Cooke read this work in Jonas’s oeuvre, explaining that Jonas had never worked in a space like this before [18:48–24:12]. Moving on, Poor asks about the documentation of the performance, not only in regards to video and photography but also in relation to the book that Dia produced in relation to the performance [24:22–27:45]. Cooke also shares that the performance was restaged a number of times around the world and at Beacon in 2006, which also brought up questions surrounding changes in the process of being at those other venues [27:45–29:50]. Stepping back to installations, Clausen and Poor wonder what this performance would look like transformed into an installation with Jonas in conversation [30:00–32:44 ]. Looking towards the future, Cooke shares her thoughts for curators who want to work with her or work with pre-existing pieces, and what it would be like to approach these pieces without the artist’s authority and participation [32:51–37:30]. The interview ends with Clausen and Poor asking Cooke if she has any recommendations on who else the Knowledge Base should interview, such as Karen Kelly, who worked on the book Dia published and Jim Bauerlein, who worked on the re-staged performances in Brazil and Berlin [37:38–40:04].