Joan Jonas, Upsidedown and Backwards

Joan Jonas, Upsidedown and Backwards

Joan Jonas, Upsidedown and Backwards (still), 1980, 29:03 minutes.

Bar Laika presents
Joan Jonas, Upsidedown and Backwards
February 27, 2020, 9pm
Bar Laika by e-flux
224 Greene Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Joan Jonas, Upsidedown and Backwards, 1980, 29:03 minutes
In Upsidedown and Backwards, two fairy tales — “The Frog Prince” and “The Boy Who Went Out to Learn Fear” — are told simultaneously, one backwards and one forwards, each interrupting the other. Jonas’ ironic use of visual symbolism further inverts the structure and content of the fragmented fairy tale narratives, creating multiple, mirror-image reversals of the texts and their meaning. The inverted and mixed-up tales, which are intercut with Jonas’ ritualistic performances, merge into a composition of transformation and sexuality that evokes the tangled subconscious of male and female desire. Jonas performs wearing a veiled doll face as she manipulates childlike objects or partners a skeleton in a danse macabre. Charged with the sublimated fears and fantasies of childhood, the tape’s imagery mirrors the fairy tales in its fusion of innocence and horror, dream and nightmare.

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