Joan Jonas Artwork Acquired by AGNS and NGC Premieres at MoMA

Installation view of Joan Jonas: Good Night Good Morning, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 17 – July 6, 2024. Photo: Jonathan Dorado © Joan Jonas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ CARCC Ottawa 2024

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Major work acquired by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the National Gallery of Canada premieres at MoMA in New York

HALIFAX, Tuesday, May 14, 2024 – The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) and the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) announced today the joint acquisition of a major work by New York-based artist, Joan Jonas. Titled Moving Off the Land II, this installation made its North American debut at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in March, as part of Joan Jonas: Good Night Good Morning, and will remain on view in New York City until July 6, 2024.

Jonas began her career in New York’s vibrant downtown art scene of the 1960s, where she was one of the first artists to work in performance and video. With Manhattan as a home base, Jonas has sought retreat in the highlands of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia since the early 1970s, an area that has heavily influenced her decades-long artistic practice.

“From her home for more than 50 years, Jonas has found inspiration in the environment that surrounds her: the woods, the Cape Breton coastline, Nova Scotian Folklore, and the community of Inverness,” says Sarah Moore Fillmore, CEO, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. “Jonas is celebrated around the world, and Nova Scotians deserve to share a part of this distinguished artist’s remarkable work. Moving Off the Land II is a lush, immersive work of art that offers a host of timely programming opportunities: connections through conversations about the ocean, climate, biodiversity, and the power of small communities in venues, and with audiences, throughout the province and across the country.”

“We are incredibly proud to partner with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia to provide a homecoming for Moving Off the Land II, a work by an artist who has been inspired by the captivating landscapes of Cape Breton Island for many decades,” adds Jean-François Bélisle, Director and CEO, National Gallery of Canada. “We want all Canadians to have a sense of belonging to the Gallery. It is through partnerships like this that we fulfill our mandate, as a national museum, to bring the visual arts to all Canadians. Canada feels like a very big place, but when we work together, we connect artists, art institutions and cultural venues in every region of this country.”

Moving Off the Land II presents the ocean as a threatened ecosystem, a repository of mythology, and a site for transformational encounters with animal life. Originally conceived as a lecture-demonstration and later adapted into a performance and installation, the work is informed by years of interdisciplinary research, including with marine biologist David Gruber. The work, which draws inspiration from Jonas’ time spent by the ocean in Cape Breton, is presented through a multimedia presentation that includes videos, theatre structures, print reproductions, cast glass, and Murano glass mirrors.

“I’m really happy that my work was acquired by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. I’ve lived in Cape Breton, Canada in the summers since 1970. I’ve been so inspired and nourished by the people and the landscape,” shares artist Joan Jonas. “Much of my work is made in Cape Breton, in the woods, on the beach, and on the road. I look forward to sharing my work with the people of Canada. It means a lot to me.”

Moving Off the Land II will make its Canadian premiere in Cape Breton in the summer of 2025. The work will then be on view at the AGNS in Halifax before it is made available to institutions across Canada.

This joint acquisition was made possible with funds from the Sobey Foundation and the DR Sobey Foundation, along with support from Canadian philanthropist Michael Nesbitt, a Distinguished Patron of the National Gallery of Canada, for NGC’s National Engagement initiative.

Quick Facts:

  • The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the National Gallery of Canada have co-acquired a major work, titled Moving Off the Land II, by New York-based artist Joan Jonas.
  • This work is currently on view at MoMA, in its North American premiere, part of the exhibition Good Night Good Morning.
  • Based in New York, Joan has spent summers in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia since 1970. Her work is heavily influenced by the area, often being created there.
  • Moving Off the Land II is presented through a multimedia presentation and presents the ocean as a threatened ecosystem, a repository of mythology, and a site for transformational encounters with animal life.
  • This joint acquisition was made possible with funds from the Sobey Foundation and the DR Sobey Foundation along with support from Canadian philanthropist Michael Nesbitt, a Distinguished Patron of the National Gallery of Canada, for NGC’s National Engagement program.

About the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is Atlantic Canada’s largest arts museum. It offers a range of bold exhibitions and engaging programming for all ages in an inclusive public gathering place connecting people with art to inspire new ways of thinking. www.agns.ca

About the National Gallery of Canada
Ankosé | Everything is Connected | Tout est relié

The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) is dedicated to amplifying voices through art and extending the reach and breadth of its collection, exhibitions program, and public activities to represent all Canadians, while centring Indigenous ways of knowing and being. Ankosé—an Anishinaabemowin word that means “everything is connected”—reflects the Gallery’s mission to create dynamic experiences that open hearts and minds, and allow for new ways of seeing ourselves, one another, and our diverse histories, through the visual arts. NGC is home to a rich contemporary Indigenous international art collection, as well as important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian and European art from the 14th to the 21st century. Founded in 1880, NGC has played a key role in Canadian culture for more than 140 years. For more information, visit gallery.ca.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Colin Stinson
Director, Marketing & Visitor Experience
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
colin.stinson@agns.ca

Pénélope Carreau
Officer, Public Relations
National Gallery of Canada
pcarreau@gallery.ca

Josée-Britanie Mallet
Senior Officer, Media and Public Relations
National Gallery of Canada
bmallet@gallery.ca