Moved to Do the Same, 2019 by Joan Jonas

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Joan Jonas
Moved to Do the Same, 2019
4" × 6" prints
A series of four semi-translucent layers on velum and two opaque black note cards Printed at Ugly Duckling Presse
Published by Triple Canopy, with support from
Yelena Ambartsumian (Origen), on the occasion of
Triple Canopy’s 2019 benefit

Since the late 1960s, Joan Jonas’s pioneering work across numerous mediums (video, drawing, performance, sound) and genres (biography, mythology, folklore) has animated countless intellectual and artistic experiments in mediation, improvisation, technology and narrative. Moved to Do the Same—created on the occasion of Triple Canopy’s 2019 benefit, which honored Jonas—is one such iterative experiment. Printed on four semi-translucent vellum sheets and two opaque black note cards, the unbound publication invites readers to encounter the cards as individual slides, pair them or stack them, hold them to the light, pin them up on a wall in different arrangements.

Moved to Do the Same features stills from Jonas’s 1976 video work Drawing Dante, in which the artist uses drawing as a means of newly interpreting Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. On a blackboard, she sketches what might be an atom, a solar system, a house, a dog, and subsequently smudges and erases the marks just made. Jonas later incorporated excerpts from Drawing Dante into the performance series Reading Dante I–IV (2007–2010), wherein Jonas performed in front of projections while she and other performers recited selections from the Divine Comedy.

Inspired by Reading Dante, Triple Canopy’s publication considers reading to be a generative space for play and for communion; for collective reflection, revision, obfuscation, and revelation. The publication includes one of Jonas’s favorite passages from the Purgatorio, canto 2, 76–81. “I’ve heard it so many times,” she’s written, “but it still gets me”:

I saw one of them come forward

with such affection to embrace me

that I was moved to do the same.

Oh empty shades, except in seeing!

Three times I clasped my hands behind him

only to find them clasped to my own chest.

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