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Jaanika Peerna included in new publication: 'Performance Drawing: New Practices since 1945'

Unframe London, 15 September, 2020

We announce the release of ‘Performance Drawing’, an important book on the subject, featuring the work of Jaanika Peerna alongside Nauman, Gego, Klein and Mendiata.

We are excited to announce Jaanika Peerna’s inclusion in ‘Performance Drawing’, a comprehensive performance drawing book written by Maryclare Foá, Jane Grisewood, Birgitta Hosea and Carali McCall. The book is published by Bloomsbury UK. 

The anthology identifies contemporary approaches to performative drawing. Significantly, the medium discussed is thought-provoking and striking, it questions the act of drawing itself as a form of self expression. Importantly, it also challenges the enticing moment drawing merges to performance, through the eyes of the viewer. ‘Performance Drawing’ celebrates artworks that exemplify the body as a tool for performance. This becomes an engaging environment in which the artist’s making process envelopes the viewers.

Featuring a wide range of international artists, this book presents pioneering practitioners, alongside current and emerging artists. The combination of experiences and disciplines in the expanded field has established a vibrant art movement that has been progressively burgeoning in the last few years. The Introduction contextualises the background and identifies contemporary approaches to performance drawing. As a way to embrace the different voices and various lenses in producing this book, the authors combine individual perspectives and critical methodology in the five chapters.

Simultaneously, ‘Performance Drawing’ brings together these international artists and artworks that merge the mediums of drawing and performance. The book explores Peerna’s performative work alongside artists such as Bruce Nauman, Gego, Jackson Pollock, Yves Klein. Ana Mendieta and Richard Serra, amongst others. 

Estonian artist Jaanika Peerna’s work features prominently in the publication’s first chapter ‘Marking: Line and Body in Time and Space’.

This chapter examines how the act of drawing itself transforms the mark into the line and the body into action. Similarly, they discuss the interrelationship between drawing and Peerna’s work is discussed in detail in the section ‘Materials and action in space’. To begin with, this section looks at artists, such as Gego and Bruce Nauman, who stress the importance of incorporating a sense of space in their work. After that, it looks at more contemporary artists who take on this mantel. Thus Peerna continues this, ‘making artworks that imply a sculptural drawing in space’. The chapter discusses how, importantly, through gestured movement, her performative practice becomes both bodily and immersive. Initially, in her practice, Peerna creates gestural linear drawings through exploring the merging of drawing and performance.

“I see all my work as drawing, whether it be video or light installation. Placing works in a room, drawing in space, leaving lines on paper, traces of movement and now performance."

 – Jaanika Peerna

In her art practice, Peerna focuses on developing line to create a sense of space. She explores themes of transitions in light, air, water and other natural phenomena. As an artist, she is concerned with addressing climate change and environmental concerns through ‘drawn’ performance.

Peerna’s 2014 performance drawing ‘Am Rand: On the Edge’ features in the book. This work consists of a site-specific wall installation which Peerna continues to work on during the live drawing performance. The 40-minute performance drawing exists on three large windows, covered with a mix of marble dust and sour milk. In the performance, the artist removes layers from the glass to allow the audience to view from both inside and outside, while responding to recorded sounds of wind and the site itself. Peerna embodies the forces of nature orchestrating her mark-making on the paper. “‘Am Rand :On the Edge‘ makes the edges of air and light visible through movement and brings us to the borders of photography, drawing, dance and installation.”

The book then goes on to talk about how Peerna’s performance drawing practice has since developed into a wider field. This focuses on sound within space. The authors specifically look at her iconic work ‘Glacier Elegy’ to discuss this point.

Peerna’s use of corporeal movement, sound and audience participation make up her immersive piece ‘Glacier Elegy’ (2018) as analysed by the authors. Notably, the innovative director of the Noguchi Museum and Garden in Long Island City, Brett Littman speaks about Peerna’s performance drawing; “It is always interesting to move drawings into performance and three-dimensional space. Peerna’s work allows us to see line as a physical object as well as a trace of her own body and the passage of time.”

Her engaging project ‘Glacier Elegy’ (2019) consists of exhibition-size installations and live drawing performances. Primarily, Peerna makes the large sprawling drawing with audience involvement. Secondly, as the work is manipulated, she then eventually melts it with blocks of ice as part of the performance. This action harks to the environmental concerns she delves into in her sculptural yet drawing based work. In addition to this, Peerna leads the performance through sound, movement and mark-making. Here, we delve into a realm directing us to empathise with issues of climate change through the experience of performance.

“Drawing is inseparable from movement. And the impetus for movement comes from deep within where the rapturous and subtle shifts happen, then ripples through the entire body impacting the plastic surface pulling the audience into the same resonant space”

 – Jaanika Peerna

This work has been shown and performed at Art Depoo in Tallinn, Real Art Ways, New York, and Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea.

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