Akeroyd Collection


Joan Jonas, Wolf Lights, 2004-2005

Wolf Lights (2004 – 2005) was originally created as one of three independent videos that were used as backdrops in Joan Jonas’ performance and installation, The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things (2004 – 2006). It was subsequently shown on the billboards of Times Square in Manhattan, NYC in 2022, as part of the 10-year anniversary of the Times Square Arts programming. Isolated from these contexts, however, this video work still captures a sense of the mythic qualities of Americana and landmarks like Times Square, but instead utilizes the Las Vegas lights as its evocative backdrop. The film shows a woman performing in a white skirt and a papier mâché wolf’s head. She moves like an animal in the night; on her knees or on all fours, she is prowling and stalking, until she comes to rest under a most iconic image of Southwest America; the neon cowboy, tipping his hat with a cigarette in his mouth. The figure is superimposed in a stylistically lo-fi manner that resembles the tv effects of the 1970s. This along with the haunting piano music, a feeling of lamentation of the past is palpable.The film appears to reference Dürer's ambiguous engraving Melancholia l, in which a winged female figure stares past the tools of industry. Here, the female of Wolf Lights instead turns its gaze to the media landscape and the advertising industry. Suggestive of a retelling of the same story, through the contemporary worries of the present, the film holds iconic images of urban spaces so evocative of the popular imagination and culture, but so too of our anxieties in this present moment in history. Joan Jonas has said of this work herself; ‘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. That’s what we do – we retell stories.'

MediumColour video, continuous loop
Duration2 minutes 53 seconds, looped
Editionof 5 + 2 APs