They Come to Us Without a Word, the multimedia installation created by Joan Jonas for the U.S. Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, will get its American premiere with a three-month run at the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture in San Francisco starting in January. Awarded a “Special Mention” by the International Jury at the Biennale—home that year to the Okwui Enwezor–curated central exhibition “All the World’s Futures”—the work draws on video, drawings, sound, sculpture, and performance in a manner that “mirrors human interference with nature’s ecosystems,” as described in a press release. Inspirations include the artist’s travels in Nova Scotia and Under the Glacier, a fantastical novel about enigmatic goings-on in a remote Icelandic town controlled by a cracked pastor by the great author Halldor Laxness.
Jonas’s work—on loan from Pamela and Richard Kramlich, collectors of media and time-based art—opens January 17 and runs through March 10. And joining it at the Fort Mason Center for two days near the start (on January 19 and 20) is a presentation of Moving Off the Land. Oceans—Sketches and Notes, which Jonas created by way of a commission by TBA-21 Academy and presented this past spring at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in London. Extrapolating on TBA-21’s interest in climate change as measured through engagement with the world’s teeming and delicate seas, the performance piece features readings, dance, live drawing, and projections “to portray the ocean’s biodiverse inhabitants and endangered marine cultures.”