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Joan Jonas x Rachel Comey

Rachel Comey is pleased to present their Spring Summer ’24 collection made in celebration of legendary American artist Joan Jonas. Jonas is dedicated to inquiry and storytelling through experimental approaches to performance video, drawing, sculpture and installation. Recognized internationally as a multimedia pioneer with a boundary-defying practice, the artist has lived and worked in SoHo NYC blocks away from the Rachel Comey studio and store for 49 years.

Works courtesy of the artist, Gladstone Gallery and Electronic Arts Intermix © Joan Jonas

The Juniper Tree Exhibition Poster, 1976

Performance Views of Choreomania, 1971 c/o Joan Jonas

Video Collage by Sara VanDerBeek using footage from Mirage I, 1976

Score, Document of 2012 Reconstruction of Mirror Piece 1

Still from Brooklyn Bridge and The Anchor Store, 1988

Video Collage by Sara VanDerBeek using footage from Mirage, 1976/1994/2005 MoMa, New York 2010.

Collage by Sara VanDerBeek

Performance views of Mirror Piece 1 (Reconfigured) 1969/2010, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Photo by Enid Alvarez

The Shape, The Scent, The Feel of Things, 2005

Still from Double Lunar Dogs, 1984

Video Collage by Sara VanDerBeek using footage from Volcano Saga, 1985–89

Still from Upside Down and Backwards, 1980

Still from Moving Off the Land, 2019

In this RC Spring 24 collection, there are both overt and subtle references to themes, materials and symbols from Jonas’s long career. The range of texture and palette are all inspired by Jonas’s environments and ecological subjects. Video stills, line drawings, surface treatments, shapes and ephemera from Joan’s ongoing body of work provided the genesis for textile creation, embellishment, silhouette, and accessory developments.

In a more direct tribute, Comey printed a selection of Jonas’s video and performance stills onto fabric for clothing and bags. Jonas herself appears on some pieces in images from CHOREOMANIA (1971), UPSIDE DOWN AND BACKWARD (1979) and LUNAR DOGS (1984). The electric colors added by Comey and the new shapes the images will take while worn reanimate the stills to their original time-based form. Working in video enables the construction of a dimensional, yet intimate space in which the ritual performed is contained by the camera for a fixed, flat screen. Transferred to clothing, the wearer enters this space on their own terms and momentum returns to the images.

The RC Spring 24 collection and show are tributes to Jonas but moreover, to all those like her who experience and communicate their worlds with sensitive body-mind awareness. Several women artists were invited to wear the clothes on the runway and celebrated composer Dana Wachs (Vorhees) created an expansive score, layering Jonas’s voice from a recent interview on top of original music. Sara VanDerBeek, co-founder of Soft Network and interdisciplinary artist, created a series of video collages especially for the Comey website that explore the transformation of Jonas's original performances, videos and installations into this capsule collection. 

Like Jonas’s approach to understanding and representing the world through her multivalent art, Comey utilizes clothing as one possibly gorgeous, sometimes paper thin, often complex entry point to much greater depths within. In March 2024 the most comprehensive retrospective of Jonas’ career, spanning 1968 to the present, will open at the Museum of Modern Art and a concurrent exhibition featuring her drawings will be at the Drawing Center, both in New York.“

- Chelsea Spengemann, Soft Network