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NOTES ON VAMP: JOAN JONAS’S ORGANIC HONEY’S VISUAL TELEPATHY

Still from Joan Jonas’s Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy, 1972, video, black-and-white, sound, 17 minutes 24 seconds. Photo: Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.

“ORGANIC HONEY” “Organic Honey” would be a cool drag name today. And in the early 1970s, Joan Jonas’s performance alias must have been gratifying to her peers—an inspired jab at countercultural pretensions and gender roles, a sardonic and playful recasting of the narcissistic hippie chick as Porta-Pak Conceptualist. Jonas’s description of Organic Honey as an “electronic erotic seductress” captures the character’s archetypal and shape-shifting qualities. She’s stylized, campy, mythical, and mediated. In conceiving her, Jonas was influenced by the conventionalized movements and expressions of Noh theater, as well as by the work of postmodern choreographers associated with Judson Dance Theater and the Grand Union, such as Yvonne Rainer and Steve Paxton. Their interest in improvisation and quotidian movement, untrained dancers, and the use of everyday objects as props freed Jonas

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