Video Depicts Masked Wolf Figure Dancing Among Las Vegas Lights, Evoking Landscapes of American Southwest

Times Square Arts, the largest public platform for contemporary performance and visual arts, is pleased to present Wolf Lights by legendary and influential video artist Joan Jonas for the month of April as part of the organization’s signature Midnight Moment series. Wolf Lights is co-presented with Gladstone Gallery.

Midnight Moment is the world’s largest, longest-running digital art exhibition, synchronized on over 90 electronic billboards throughout Times Square nightly from 11:57pm to midnight. April marks the 10 year anniversary of the Midnight Moment series, and kicks off an exciting line-up of pieces from all women artists until April 2023.

In Wolf Lights, images of Las Vegas neon signs flood the screens with red and yellow patterns of light. Referencing Dürer’s Melancholia l, a white-skirted female figure, now wearing a paper-maché wolf mask, is superimposed onto the Las Vegas lightscape. She moves like an animal on all fours, rotating above the lights, gliding over the patterns, finally coming to a halt next to the neon cowboy, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. Wolf Lights encompasses broad-ranging associations with the American landscape and the Southwest, but resonates in Times Square as well. The footage of the glitzy Las Vegas lights takes on new context amidst Times Square’s contemporary electronic landscape, merging two iconic American urban spaces that both hold powerful space in the popular imagination.

“The Southwest is a perfect example of different cultures layered on top of each other, and next to each other. I’m very interested in how stories are retold, of course,” said Joan Jonas. “That’s what we do—we retell stories.”

Jonas’ projections and props are tableaux, investigating expressive values, shaping her stories and magical tales through visual and aural, sensual and imaginative clusters of affinities. By wearing masks in some works, and drawing while performing on stage in others, she disrupts the conventions of theatrical storytelling to emphasize potent symbols and critical self-awareness.

From masquerading in disguise before the camera to turning mirrors on the audience, she turns doubling and reflection into metaphors for the tenuous divide between subjective and objective vision, and the loss of fixed identities. Wolf Lights (2004-2005) was originally created as one of three independent videos that were used as backdrops in Jonas’ performance and installation, The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things (2004-2006), which reflected on the American Southwest.

Joan Jonas (b. 1936, New York) is a pioneer of performance and video art. She works in video, installation, sculpture, and drawing, often collaborating with musicians and dancers to realize improvisational works that are equally at home in the museum gallery and on the theatrical stage. Drawing on mythic stories from various cultures, Jonas invests texts from the past with the politics of the present.

Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary artists and cultural institutions to experiment and engage with one of the world’s most iconic urban places. Through the Square’s electronic billboards, public plazas, vacant areas and popular venues, and the Alliance’s own online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators, such as Mel Chin, Tracey Emin, Jeffrey Gibson, Ryan McGinley, Yoko Ono, and Kehinde Wiley, to help the public see Times Square in new ways. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation and creativity, and the Arts Program ensures these qualities remain central to the district’s unique identity.

Gladstone Gallery is a leading contemporary art gallery with locations in New York, Brussels, and Seoul. Representing more than seventy artists, as well as major foundations and estates, Gladstone Gallery has played a significant role in launching the careers of several of the most notable artists working today.

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