United States Pavilion, Venice, Italy

They Come to Us without a Word

ShowingMay 9, 2015 - November 22, 2015

United States Pavilion, Venice, Italy

The MIT List Visual Arts Center, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs,  presented Joan Jonas as the representative for the United States at La Biennale di Venezia 56th International Art Exhibition (May 9 – November 22, 2015). Jonas, a pioneering figure in performance art and video, created a new multimedia installation that transformed the entirety of the Pavilion’s five galleries into a dynamically immersive environment.

Jonas has been a tenured visual arts professor at MIT for the past 15 years, and is currently Professor Emerita in the MIT Program in Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT). Curated by Paul C. Ha, Director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center and commissioner for the project; and Ute Meta Bauer, currently the Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and previously the Founding Director of the Program in Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) at MIT, Jonas’s installation for the U.S. Pavilion is an exceptional moment in her longstanding relationship with MIT.

For the five galleries of the U.S. Pavilion, Joan Jonas conceived  a new complex of works, creating a multilayered ambience, incorporating video, drawings, objects, and sound.
Literature has always been an inspiration and source for Jonas, and They Come To Us without a Word  extended her investigation into the work of Halldór Laxness and other literary sources concerned with the spiritual aspects of nature. Take a virtual tour of the exhibition.

Visit the official website here

In conjunction with Joan Jonas’s project for the US Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, the MIT List Visual Arts Center has published They Come to Us without a Word.

The List is renowned for presenting groundbreaking contemporary artwork and has always served as a creative laboratory where artists are free to experiment—–a leadership position that has been affirmed by the Center’s selection as the commissioning institution for the U.S. Pavilion for the third time in the past 15 years, having organized the Pavilions by Fred Wilson in 2003 and Ann Hamilton in 1999.

For more information visit: joanjonasvenice2015.com

  • Joan Jonas, They Come to Us without a Word, 2015

  • Installation view of Joan Jonas’s They Come to Us without a Word (Homeroom), 2015. The U.S . Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia; commissioned by the MIT List Visual Arts Center. Photo by Moira Ricci.

  • Installation view of Joan Jonas’s They Come to Us without a Word, 2015. The U.S . Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia; commissioned by the MIT List Visual Arts Center. Photo by Moira Ricci.

Press Coverage

  1. Joan Jonas’s Venice Biennale Pavilion Is a Triumph | New York Times | Roberta Smith

  2. Joan Jonas: legendary American performance artist is the toast of Venice | The Guardian | Jason Farago

  3. Joan Jonas represents US at Venice Biennale with quietly potent show | Sebastian Smee | Boston Globe

  4. Joan Jonas: All at Once | New York Times T Magazine