Left Side -- Right Side

© Sammlung Generali Foundation - Dauerleihgabe am Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Repro: Michael Loebenstein/Claudia Slanar

Joan Jonas

Left Side -- Right Side, 1972

Video, black and white, sound, 8 min 50 sec


Artwork text

For Jonas, video served to extend the boundaries of her internal dialogue and to establish an evocative relationship between the screen's box-like structure and her imagery, which interprets the figure in fixed space. Left Side -- Right Side [is] concerned with the spatial ambiguity inherent in the video image, where the differentation between video image and mirror image is used to establish a condition of uncertainty that propels the work. -- Bob Riley, Currents (Video Data Bank) In this early work, Jonas translates her performance strategies to video, applying the inherent properties of the medium to her investigations of the self and the body. Jonas performs in a direct, one-on-one confrontation with the viewer, using the immediacy and intimacy of video as conceptual constructs. Exploring video as both a mirror and a masking device, and using her body as an art object, she undertakes an examation of self and identity, subjectivity and objectivity. Creating a series of inversions, she splits her image, splits the video screen, and splits her identification within the video space, playing with the spatial ambiguity of non-reversed images (video) and reversed images (mirrors). Though Jonas' approach is formalist and reductive, her performance reveals an ironic theatricality. Illustrating the phenomenology of video as a mirror, Left Side -- Right Side is a classic of early performance-based, conceptual video. (Electronic Arts Intermix)