Joan Jonas, Mirage, 1976. Performance with film projections (Mirage  and Volcano Film ) and pre-recorded video (Car Tape , Good Night Good Morning , and May Windows ) shown on monitor.
Made after a trip to India, which was, according to Jonas, an “underlying influence” for the work, the initial performance of Mirage (1976) developed from the experience of creating the performance Twilight (1975) at Anthology Film Archives in New York. Jonas created the performance Mirage (1976) specifically for the space of the screening room at Anthology Film Archives the following year, using the adjustable projection screen as a central component of the performance. The performance is the culmination of this series of works to which Jonas refers collectively as the black-and-white series and which includes Funnel (1974), Tunnel (1974), and the aforementioned Twilight. It also marks the last in a series of performances that dealt with the multiple, simultaneous presentations of the artist through live performance and pre-recorded video footage presented on monitors and projection screens.
In the performance Mirage, Jonas uses nine-foot metal cones that were based on the paper cones she had used previously in the performances Funnel and Twilight. She activates the cones in various ways—to look through, to funnel sound, and as sculptural objects—and a single cone serves as the main prop, which Jonas moves on and off a table-like stage platform and uses as a megaphone. During the first performance at Anthology Film Archives, all of the cones, except for one, were placed behind the large projection screen and were only visible when the screen was lit from behind. This setup varied at subsequent performances at different venues.
Jonas performed Mirage at nine different venues between 1976 and 1980; nearly 40 years later, in 2018, she reconstructed Mirage for a series of performances at Tate Modern in London, a restaging which included some adaptations and changes from the original version. Mirage includes a number of elements that appear in different sequences, depending on the performance variation. In addition to the cones, these include a small wooden hoop, a mask, a staff, stones, and the chalk with which Jonas made drawings in the pattern of a hopscotch court. On the stage platform sits a video monitor, which Jonas uses to both present the videos Good Night Good Morning (1976), Car Tape (1976), and May Windows (1976), and as a stool for herself. Volcano Film (1976) and excerpts from the film Mirage (1976) are projected on the screen above the stage.
The installation version of Mirage (1976/1994/2005) includes a number of the props, films, and videos from the performance.
Jonas, Joan. “Mirage (1976).” In Joan Jonas: Performance Video Installation 1968–2000, edited by Johann Karl Schmidt, 124–33. Stuttgart: Galerie der Stadt Stuttgart; Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2001.
Jonas, Joan. “Mirage [Script].” In In the Shadow a Shadow: The Work of Joan Jonas, edited by Joan Simon and Joan Jonas, 218–27. New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2015.
London, Barbara. “From Video to Intermedia: A Personal History.” In Modern Women: Women Artists at the Museum of Modern Art, edited by Cornelia H. Butler and Alexandra Schwartz, 356–59. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2010.
Poor, Kristin. “Joan Jonas in conversation with Kristin Poor.” Movement Research. July 19, 2018. https://movementresearch.org/publications/critical-correspondence/joan-jonas-in-conversation-with-kristin-poor.
Simon, Joan. “Mirage.” In In the Shadow a Shadow: The Work of Joan Jonas, edited by Joan Simon and Joan Jonas, 216–17. New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2015.
For further reading, see Mirage Bibliography.
- Joan Jonas. “Mirage [Script].” In In the Shadow a Shadow: The Work of Joan Jonas, edited by Joan Simon and Joan Jonas, 218–27. New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2015.
Performance Chronology and Documentation
- Anthology Film Archives, New York, May 21–May 24, 1976. Performers: Joan Jonas, Christina Patoski. (Performance Documentation)
- 26th Fall Arts Festival: New York—Downtown Manhattan: Soho, organized by René Block, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, September 25 and 26, 1976. Performers: Joan Jonas, Tabea Blumenschein. (Additional Materials)
- Joan Jonas: Stage Sets, curated by Michael A. Quigley, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, December 3, 1976. Performers: Joan Jonas, Jane Savitt. (Performance Documentation)
- Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, February 1, 1977. Performer: Joan Jonas.
- Documenta 6 Kassel, Germany, directed by Manfred Schneckenburger, June 23 and 25, 1977. Performer: Joan Jonas, assisted by Jane Crawford. (Performance Documentation)
- Anthology Film Archives, New York, September 26, 1977. Performer: Joan Jonas. (New York Times review)
- India America Festival of Music and Dance, Sala Borromini, Rome, sponsored by Galleria l’Attico, November 1977. Performers: Joan Jonas, Rosella Or. (Festival Documentation, Fabio Sargentini website)
- Theatre Vanguard, Los Angeles, 1977. Performer: Joan Jonas.
- Salle Patiño, Geneva, organized by Adeline von Fürstenberg, 1977. Performer: Joan Jonas. (Performance Documentation)
- Excerpt performed as part of Solo Hits (vignettes from four works with incidental music by Jon Gibson), First Intermedia Art Festival, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, February 1980. Performer: Joan Jonas. (Additional Materials)
- Joan Jonas: Performances/Video/Installation, curated by David Ross, University Art Museum (now UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive), Berkeley, May 16 and 18, 1980. Performer: Joan Jonas, assisted by Elsie Ritchie. (Performance Documentation)
- Improvised performance during double projection screening of Mirage (1976) and Mirage II (1976/2000), Joan Jonas Film and Video Work, 1968–76, Dia Center for the Arts, New York, September 28, 2000. Performer: Joan Jonas. (Event Program)
- Joan Jonas: Mirage 1976/2018 in BMW Tate Live Exhibition: Ten Days Six Nights, curated by Catherine Wood, Isabella Maidment, and Andrea Lissoni, Tate Modern, London, March 20–21, 2018. Performer: Joan Jonas, assisted by Elena Mazzi. Assistance: Paula Longendyke. Technical Assistance: David Sherman. Costume: Charles Warren. (Performance Documentation)
- Joan Jonas on Mirage Performances, April 2019
- Joan Jonas on Joan Jonas: Works 1968–1994, September 2019
- Interview with Douglas Crimp (art historian, critic and curator in the fields of postmodern theory and art, dance, film, queer, and feminist theory), March 2019
- Interview with Simone Forti (American-Italian artist, choreographer, dancer, and writer), December 2020
- Interview with Barbara London (founding curator of video and media art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York [1973–2017]; curator, writer, and a professor at Yale University), May 2019
- Interview with Paula Longendyke (New York-based artist, creative director, and designer), May 2019
- Interview with Babette Mangolte (French-American experimental filmmaker and photographer based in New York), September 2020
- Interview with David Ross (chair of the MFA Practice program at the School of Visual Arts, New York), June 2019
- Interview with Nefeli Skarmea (movement director, yoga instructor, and art curator based in London and Geneva), September 2020
- Interview with Gwenn Thomas (New York-based artist), June 2019
- Interview with Catherine Wood (senior curator for International Art and Performance at Tate Modern, London), April 2020
- Interview with Gillian Young (Assistant Professor of Art History at Wofford College, South-Carolina), September 2020
The following are examples of data visualizations based on SPARQL queries to visualize research on Mirage performances. The Joan Jonas Knowledge Base has designed a linked open data model to capture research on Joan Jonas’s work, using Wikidata to render our dataset accessible to the community.
“Dimensions” data visualization example