Highlights from La Biennale di Venezia: “They Come to Us without a Word” by Joan Jonas

We are hunted, the rooms are hunted.

They Come to Us Without a Word is a pioneering video installation created by artist Joan Jonas for the United States Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. The American master subtly evokes the fragility of nature in a rapidly changing situation through an outstanding visual and oral narration. Ghost stories sourced from the oral tradition of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, introduce the visitors to a suspended world, where subconscious desires and fragments of reality are wonderfully fused together into a continuous lullaby that links each room to the next. The first rooms of the pavilion represent the living creatures, with looping images of bees and fishes, the third room focuses on an object, the mirror, the fourth one on a force, the wind, while the fifth one represent a place, the homeroom, filled with memories and enchanting suggestions. The artist developed the videos in New York in 2015, during a series of workshops with children that performed in front of video backdrops showcasing excerpts from Jonas‘s earlier works as well as landscapes she shots in different parts of the world. Rippled mirrors, kites made in Japan and other objects used as props in the videos are placed in the rooms alongside the artist’s drawings to give to the dream-like atmosphere its concrete counterpart.

Joan Jonas liberates art from rational boundaries and reaches the fleeting realm of emotions. From this metaphysical dimension she is able to approach major themes such as pain, joy, eternity, finitude and childhood with extreme lightness and outstanding insight. Despite the kind of abstract feel, Jonas‘s work is tightly connected to present and gently whispers a new way to relate and understand life in contemporary times.

  • Highlights from La Biennale di Venezia: “They Come to Us without a Word” by Joan Jonas

    Article by
    Cecilia Musmeci



    Cecilia Musmeci


    May 9th – November 22th
    United States Pavilion,
    La Biennale di Venezia

    Special Thanks

    La Biennale di Venezia