Joan Jonas, 1974, 10'58''

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In Merlo (the Italian word for blackbird), Joan Jonas focuses on the perception of image and sound from various distances. In the first scene, swathed in a black gown and veil, she clambers over the rocks in a chasm. The camera is above her. She is humming a song, which she more often does in performances, through a paper cone. This paper cone is a recurring item in Jonas’ performances, but each time is used in a different way. In the following scene, Jonas is standing on a flat stretch of grass. The monotonous sound she produces is reminiscent of a howling dog. Dogs are responding by barking. In the scene that follows, Jonas is sitting on the far side of a river. She is only a tiny figure within the image. There is a strong wind, which is making the river fow fast. The sound that Jonas makes through the cone brings to mind the sound of a ship’s horn. In the final scene, Jonas is looking out across a valley. She is making movements that bring to mind the movements of birds: she hunches up, flaps her ‘wings’, and ‘flies’. The sound plays a major role in each of the scenes; it evokes associations and determines the atmosphere, which is threatening and sinister.


  • Date: 1974
  • Length: 10'58''
  • Type: Video
  • Copyrights: All rights reserved (c) LIMA