Bon Jane Interview
by Anna Maria Sandegren
Her unapologetic will to create whatever her heart, soul and guts manifest is admirable, serving as a huge inspiration for the Precious 7 team, especially editor in chief, Anna Maria Sandegren. We were lucky enough to sit with Bon Jane and discover what fires her up and fuels her.
P7: How did you get involved in performance arts?
BON JANE: Artists raised me and it was natural to be an artist growing up, so it’s not something I chose as much as it chose me, and I chose it back. I remember my art school teachers and theater teachers paying special attention to me and telling me I was an artist, which felt wonderful because I was an otherwise awkward child and hated being amongst the other kids who didn’t understand me, or made fun of how I dressed. This is starting at age seven. I became a model after high school and learned about ‘performing’ as a ‘beautiful object’, which was really a head fuck because my whole life I had been tortured as a kid for being awkward and all of a sudden people were throwing money, power and prestige at me because they liked the way I looked. So entering young adulthood, I have something to say to that, I’m an angry young female, and my body and how it looks has always been the topic of conversation, so let’s use that as the medium. I think many performance artists are made through some type of adversity; the passion to use your body for expression comes from there.
P7: Tells us about working with Abramovic?
BON JANE: Amazing. She is such a creature. One of the most important aspects of working with her in setting up her exhibition at the MoMA was the collaborative and communal aspect. It was the first time that type of exhibition had been made – performance art ‘re-performed’. For Marina, for the staff at MoMA, and for us as performers, it was all a big open-ended book, so it was like, ‘How do we want to write this?’ Specifically on performing… the MoMA cut the length of time we were allowed to perform due to legalities. Performers were fainting left and right at rehearsal, I fainted while performing ‘Point of Contact’ during the exhibition. Each artwork had a set number of hours it could be performed by one person. Sitting still for two and a half hours during ‘Relation in Time’, and having the second set of performers arrive to undo our hair so we could be relieved, for example, often came as a sad interruption to the piece. I wanted to continue performing. The durational aspect of the work was not fully realized in the re-performances. Nor could we possibly reflect the magnitude and importance of each piece of work in a space like that all at once and at the same time. I felt each piece was much more poignant and relevant in it’s original form and documentation of that form, and we were serving as a theatrical aspect of the exhibition rather than an artistic one. She was not trying to say or create anything new by having us there. The actual performance work was on the main floor of the MoMA where Marina sat for three months. And it was so hard to get a chance to sit with her. There would be a line around the block hours before the MoMA opened each day, and there were regular attendees who became part of the performance in their own durational work with Marina.
P7: What inspires you when creating your art?
BON JANE: Beauty and Nature. Sex. Death. Rock n’ roll.
P7: What is your fascination with Horses?
BON JANE: I’ve felt connected to them since I was young. If someone asked me if I knew how to ride before I’d ever been on the back of a horse I would say yes because of my ability to connect with the horse. I don’t understand why everyone isn’t fascinated by them, really. Helping out at shelters for neglected horses that need adoption, like Equine Rescue Resource in Upstate NY, is a great way to get involved with horses if you don’t have your own or can’t afford lessons. That’s how I got involved in Brooklyn, helping out at the Kensington Stables in exchange for riding lessons or being able to use their horses for a photo or video shoot. There is something about the ‘performance’ and ‘show’ aspect of horses that really fits in with my work as well. And then there are horses that perform! Oh my God.