Organic Honey Overview Map
Organic Honey refers to a group of iterative, variable, and interrelated artworks based on Joan Jonas’s persona and alter ego whose name lends the work its title. Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy (1972) is Jonas’s first autonomous video work and the first in which she presented the Organic Honey persona. After making the video, Jonas rearranged the material and developed the performance Organic Honey Visual Telepathy (1972) at LoGiudice Gallery, bringing together all of the elements in front of an audience for the first time. As one of Jonas’s first performances in which video was a major component, Organic Honey Visual Telepathy (1972) included a closed-circuit camera and monitor, which Jonas used to create a new situational experience, enabling audiences to view different aspects of the work simultaneously. Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy was followed by a second, closely related performance entitled Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll (1972). In both performances, viewers watched combinations of live and recorded transmissions in which the camera and monitor functioned as both a mirroring and masking device. Across these related works, Jonas masquerades as Organic Honey, performing burlesque routines, dancing to reggae music, fanning her masked face, and peeling away sheets of paper tacked to the walls to reveal an iconic geisha ukyuo-e: another trope of femininity.
The artworks in Organic Honey evolved over two years while Jonas engaged with the materials and re-worked the pre-recorded footage through live video performance. Beginning with one single-channel video, it transformed into a complex installation that combines elements of Jonas’s performance with drawings, props, mirrors, and videos. The works in the suite, many of which have been shown individually over the years, include Jonas’s genre-defining videos Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy (1972), Vertical Roll (1972), and Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll (1973–99), as well as the videos Duet (1972), Two Women (1973), and Anxious Automation (1971), the latter, a single-channel piece by Richard Serra. Organic Honey was performed on numerous occasions throughout the 1970s. In the early 1990s Jonas transformed the material into an immersive installation, and then presented it in 2005 and 2016 as an attendant, expansive archive. Organic Honey is not only significant for the way it places video in dialogue with live action and shifts meaning to the viewer’s experience, but for its overall iterative quality, which decentralizes the art object, placing emphasis on temporality, repetition, and ephemerality, and setting the groundwork for Jonas’s long-term exploration of transformation, reflection, ritual, and female archetypes.
Burton, Johanna. “The Strings of the Human Spirit: Joan Jonas’s Asymmetrical Symbolic.” In In the Shadow a Shadow: The Work of Joan Jonas, edited by Joan Simon and Joan Jonas, 172–79. New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2015.
Clausen, Barbara. “Performing the Archive and Exhibiting the Ephemeral.” In A History of Performance Documentation, edited by Gabriella Giannachi and Johan Westerman, 93–114. London: Routledge, 2017.
Crimp, Douglas. “De-Synchronization in Joan Jonas’ Performances.” In Joan Jonas Scripts and Descriptions: 1968–1982, edited by Douglas Crimp, 8–10. Berkeley: University Art Museum, University of California; Eindhoven: Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, 1983.
DeJong, Constance. “‘A Work by Joan Jonas’. Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy.” Directing Issue, The Drama Review: TDR 16, no. 2 (June 1972): 63–65. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1144714
Iles, Chrissie. “Reflective Spaces: Film and Video in the Work of Joan Jonas.” In Joan Jonas: Performance Video Installation 1968–2000, ed. Johann-Karl Schmidt, 154–64. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2001.
Jahn, Andrea. “The Encounter with the Gaze Behind the Mask.” In Joan Jonas: Performance Video Installation 1968–2000, edited by Johann-Karl Schmidt, 58–67. Stuttgart: Galerie der Stadt Stuttgart; Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2001.
“Joan Jonas.” Electronic Arts Intermix. https://www.eai.org/artists/joan-jonas/titles
Jonas, Joan, and Rosalind Krauss. “Seven Years.” The Drama Review: TDR 19, no. 1. (March 1975): 13–17. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1144962
Simon, Joan. “Organic Honey.” In In the Shadow a Shadow: The Work of Joan Jonas, edited by Joan Simon and Joan Jonas, 142–43. New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2015.
Simon, Joan. “Scenes and Variations: an Interview with Joan Jonas.” In Joan Jonas: Performance Video Installation 1968–2000, edited by Johann-Karl Schmidt, 25–35. Stuttgart: Galerie der Stadt Stuttgart; Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2001.
For further reading, see Organic Honey Bibliography.
The following are examples of data visualizations based on SPARQL queries to visualize research on Organic Honey. 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.
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