Wolf Lights

Joan Jonas

Gladstone Gallery

This April, legendary and influential video and performance artist Joan Jonas brings Wolf Lights to the billboards of Times Square every night just before midnight.

In Wolf Lights, a white-skirted female figure in a paper-maché wolf mask is superimposed onto the bright, colorful lights of Las Vegas’s neon signscape. She moves slowly but surely amid the shifting and flashing patterns of light, sometimes kneeling and sometimes moving like an animal on all fours, before finally coming to a halt next to the grinning neon cowboy.

Referencing Dürer's ambiguous engraving Melancholia l, in which a winged female figure stares past the tools of industry, Wolf Lights turns its gaze to broad-ranging associations with the American landscape and the Southwest. 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. That’s what we do—we retell stories.”
— Joan Jonas

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).

Wolf Lights is the first of twelve works by women that will appear as Midnight Moments over the course of a year, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the program.
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.

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.