new-york

Joan Jonas

Wave Hill

Joan Jonas presented two late-July performances of Variations on a Scene (a work in progress in collaboration with Jorge Zontal, an artist member of General Idea) at Wave Hill, the public gardens and former estate on the Hudson River. These were ideal surroundings for Jonas’ commensurately grand and picturesque five-part theatrical, with its cast of seven and various mixed-media effects. The audience, on folding chairs and on the grass, was initially assembled about the perimeter of a great, weeping beech tree. Its shaded, organically-curtained sanctum served as stage one. We were introduced to the diurnal rhythm of a sort of archetypal polyglot family, whose “lineage” was suggested by the roots of the tree itself rather than by factitious reference to any particular nation or class. Jonas created the impression of an eccentric house-museum—of which there are many in the Hudson Valley—come

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