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Joan Jonas, Moving Off the Land, 2016/2018, Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, San Francisco, 2019.
© Photo: Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture/Justine Oliphant


Performance by Joan Jonas, Moving Off the Land


Ocean Space
Admission fee
Free of charge

Joan Jonas

Joan Jonas’s mesmerizing multimedia performance "Moving Off the Land" pays tribute to the ocean and its creatures, biodiversity, and delicate ecology. On this exceptional occasion, Jonas is joined onstage by the celebrated composer, improviser, and electronic musician Ikue Mori (born 1953, Tokyo) and the performer Francesco Migliaccio (born 1994, Torre del Greco).

Combining movement, live drawing, readings, and video projection, "Moving Off the Land" draws on literary and mythological sources as well as Jonas’s own collection of sketches and notes. Projected video footage of underwater scenes creates a setting in which multiple layers of gestures, real and imaginary figures, and numerous aquatic beings are brought together. In this 60-minute performance, Jonas celebrates the poetics and explores the ecology of the ocean, which she describes as “a poetic, totemic, and natural entity, as a life source and home to a universe of beings.” Readings include excerpts from Herman Melville’s novel "Moby Dick" (1851), naturalist Sy Montgomery’s book "The Soul of an Octopus" (2015), and marine biologist Rachel Carson’s poetic science writing in "The Edge of the Sea" (1955).

This performance took place on the occasion of Jonas’s exhibition "Moving Off the Land II", the inaugural project at Ocean Space. Originally commissioned by TBA21–Academy in 2016, the performance has been presented in parallel to the Kochi Biennale in 2016; at Tate Modern, London, in 2018; and at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, San Francisco, in January 2019.

Moving Off the Land is performed by Joan Jonas in collaboration with composer Ikue Mori.

Second performer: Francesco Migliaccio

Technical Assistance: David Sherman

General Assistance to Joan Jonas: Sekeena Gavagan, Elena Mazzi

Light design: Jan Kroeze


Joan Jonas, Moving Off the Land, 2019, Ocean Space, Chiesa di San Lorenzo, Venice. Performance with Ikue Mori and Francesco Migliaccio. Commissioned by TBA21–Academy. Photo Moira Ricci © Joan Jonas