Press Release

Live Multi-Media Performance by Pioneering Artist Joan Jonas Commissioned by TBA21–Academy at Tate

Event Date: 
31 May 2018
London, UK
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Part of Tate Modern’s survey exhibition, Moving Off the Land. Oceans – Sketches and Notes will activate the Turbine Hall with a multilayered tribute to the ocean


On May 31, artist Joan Jonas will give a compelling performance and mesmerizing tribute to the life and power of the ocean. Commissioned by TBA21–Academy and presented in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall as part of a survey exhibition dedicated to the artist’s work, the multi-layered performance is Jonas’ poetic response to the threatened marine cultures, endangered habitats, and rampant exploitation of our seas. Jonas will be joined onstage by celebrated composer and drummer Ikue Mori, who will perform her music live to accompany Jonas’ piece.

Drawing upon various literary references and visual materials, Moving Off the Land. Oceans—Sketches and Notes brings together readings, dance, live drawing, and projections to portray the ocean’s biodiverse inhabitants and its fragile balance of ecology. Video footage of underwater scenes creates the setting onto which multiple layers are added, including the artist’s own collections of sketches and notes on the sea as well as readings from Herman Melville’s celebrated novel Moby Dick, Sy Montgomery’s exploratory essay Soul of an Octopus, and Italo Calvino’s short story The Aquatic Uncle.

The oceans have been an ongoing thematic touchstone in Jonas’ work, including her recent project for the U.S. Pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 2015. The 50-minute performance builds upon an earlier iteration of the work first presented as part of TBA21–Academy’s Convening #2 in Kochi, India (2016).


Moving Off the Land. Oceans – Sketches and Notes by Joan Jonas, in collaboration with Ikue Morie

Commissioned by TBA21–Academy and co-organized by Tate Modern and TBA21–Academy


Thursday, May 31, 2018, at 9 p.m. GMT


Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG, UK


Free with ticket


Joan Jonas (b.1936, New York) is a pre-eminent figure in contemporary performance and an acclaimed multimedia artist whose work encompasses video, performance, installation, sound, text and drawing. Reflecting the way Jonas works across many different disciplines, the ground-breaking survey exhibition is the first of its kind at Tate, combining a gallery exhibition, a ten-day live programme in the Tanks with performances by Jonas herself, a film retrospective in the Starr Cinema, as well as this special one-day-only live performance of Moving Off Land. On view through August 5, 2018, the exhibition reveals her powerful impact on contemporary art and her dedication to pushing boundaries to this day.


Founded by Francesca von Habsburg and drawing on her experience as a producer of cross-disciplinary art installations and socially engaged cultural programming, TBA21–Academy leads artists, scientists, and thought-leaders on expeditions of collaborative discovery. Its mission is to foster a deeper understanding of our ocean through the lens of art and to engender creative solutions to its most pressing issues. Led by Director Markus Reymann, the itinerant Academy commissions interdisciplinary research that catalyzes engagement, stimulates new knowledge, and inspires artistic production. Established in 2011, the nonprofit’s program is informed by a belief in the power of exchange between disciplines and in the ability of the arts as a vessel for communication, change, and action.

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Joan Jonas, "Moving Off the Land," 2016/2017. Performance with María Huld Markan on Sequences art festival, Reykjavík, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York/Rome. Photo Elísabet Davíðsdóttir.

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