Joan Jonas, Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll, 1972. Video performance (including live-feed video and Jonas’s Duet  and Richard Serra’s Anxious Automation ).
The performance Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll is the final variation of the Organic Honey performances. It includes live-feed video as well as Jonas’s Duet (1972) and Richard Serra’s Anxious Automation (1971), shown on a monitor and in a projection. (Jonas’s video Two Women (1973) was also included in a 1973 performance.) Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll was first performed at Ace Gallery in Venice, California in 1972. The piece was performed again numerous times in the following years and the edited documentation of a 1973 performance at Leo Castelli Gallery became the source for the video by the same name. To create the performance, Jonas performed actions that she had previously recorded to create the video Vertical Roll (1972). Rather than include the video in the performance, however, Jonas performed these actions live, taking the opportunity to reconfigure the work and allowing for additional variations between the performance and the previously recorded video.
In various iterations of the performance a videographer follows Jonas closely, shooting her and the objects she engages in detail in carefully choreographed and predetermined sequences. Videographers at different venues included Linda Patton, Roberta Neiman, and Babette Mangolte. The audience saw the live performance simultaneously with details of the performance projected and on a monitor, recorded by the live camera that was a part of the performance. A second, smaller video monitor on the floor of the performance space and not visible to the audience allowed Jonas to see the details and framing of this live footage and adjust her movements in relation to the camera.
The performance includes many of Jonas’s signature activities including the ritualistic activation of props and mirrors, drawing, non-narrative sonic explorations like howling, and the enactment of her masked alter ego Organic Honey. Jonas incorporates her earlier performance Mirror Check (1970) at the beginning of the performance. A drawing of Jonas’s dog Sappho is part of the performance and the dog appears on the video monitor from a pre-recording. This double of Sappho echoes the numerous acts of doubling that take place throughout this body of work as Jonas engages in a dialogue between performer and monitor, laughs at her own image on screen, and performs numerous repetitive movements and sounds, which are reflected in both the video monitor and mirror. In this, as in Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy (1972), Jonas incorporates moving images into her performative structures, playing off of the notion of time and space in innovative ways.
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.
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.
Jonas, Joan. “Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll 1972 [Script].” In Joan Jonas: Scripts and Descriptions 1968–1982, edited by Douglas Crimp, 53–58. Berkeley: University Art Museum, University of California; Eindhoven: Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, 1983.
Jonas, Joan. “Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll [Introduction and Script].” In In the Shadow a Shadow: The Work of Joan Jonas, edited by Joan Simon and Joan Jonas, 162–69. New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2015.
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.
For further reading, see Organic Honey Bibliography.
- Jonas, Joan. “Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll 1972 [Script].” In Joan Jonas: Scripts and Descriptions 1968–1982, edited by Douglas Crimp, 53–58. Berkeley: University Art Museum, University of California; Eindhoven: Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, 1983.
Performance Chronology and Documentation
- Ace Gallery, Venice, California, October 1972. Performers: Joan Jonas, Anne Thornycroft, Margaret Wilson. Camera: Roberta Neiman. (Performance Documentation)
- San Francisco Art Institute, October 27, 1972. Performers: Freuda, Joan Jonas. Camera: Roberta Neiman.
- California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, October, 1972. Performers: Joan Jonas, Anne Thornycroft, Margaret Wilson. Camera: Roberta Neiman.
- Leo Castelli Gallery, New York. January 4–6, 1973. Performer: Joan Jonas. Camera: Babette Mangolte. Sound: Kurt Munkacsi. (Performance Documentation) (Video Documentation) (Unedited Video Footage)
- Festival d’Automne: Aspects de l’art actuel, Musée Galliera, Paris, 1973. Performer: Joan Jonas. Camera: Babette Mangolte. Sound: Kurt Munkacsi. (Performance Documentation)
- Galleria Toselli, Milan, April 1973. Performer: Joan Jonas. Camera: Babette Mangolte. (Performance Documentation)
- Oberlin Festival of Contemporary Arts, Oberlin College, Oberlin, May 3, 1973. Performer: Joan Jonas. Camera: Babette Mangolte. Technical Assistance: Jean Kondo, Jim Jacobs.
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, February 5, 1974. Performers: Suzanne Harris, Joan Jonas. Camera: Babette Mangolte.
- Contemporanea, Rome, February 12, 1974. Performers: Joan Jonas, Charlemagne Palestine. Camera: Babette Mangolte. (Performance Documentation)
- Excerpt performed with Tunnel, private residence of Fredericka Hunter and Ian Glennie for Texas Gallery, Houston, September 10, 1974. Performer: Joan Jonas. Camera: Babette Mangolte.
- 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. (Performance Documentation)
- Joan Jonas: Performances/Video/Installation, University Art Museum (now UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive), Berkeley, May 23–24, 1980. Performer: Joan Jonas. Camera: Babette Mangolte. Technical assistance: Barney Bailey, Bobbie Schalk-Condie, Brüce Glück, Adrienne Wong. (Performance Documentation)
- Joan Jonas on Organic Honey, October 2018
- Joan Jonas on Organic Honey Performances and Videos, December 2020
- Interview with Barbara Clausen (independent curator and professor of art history at UQAM, Montreal), August 2020
- 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 Constance DeJong (artist, writer, performer, and professor of art and time-based media at Hunter College, New York), December 2019
- Interview with Simone Forti (American-Italian artist, choreographer, dancer, and writer), December 2020
- Interview with Babette Mangolte (French-American experimental filmmaker and photographer based in New York), September 2020
- Interview with Carol Mersereau (New York-based artist and photographer), September 2020
- Interview with David Ross (chair of the MFA Practice program at the School of Visual Arts, New York), June 2019
- Interview with Joan Simon (independent curator and writer based in Paris), January 2021
- Interview with Gwenn Thomas (New York-based artist), June 2019
- 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 Organic Honey performances. The Joan Jonas Knowledge Base has designed a linked open data model to capture research on Joan Jonas’ work, using Wikidata to render our dataset accessible to the community.
“Dimensions” data visualization example