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Jonathan Jones

To give you an idea of my artistic interests, the subject central to my practice is the symbiotic relationship of community to the individual, and individual to the community. The two are inseparable, though I believe the two factors are fictitious. The notion of a community in many ways is an impossibility, as there is no group of people who are exactly the same constituting a community. Therefore, all communities can be broken down to individuals. The individual again by itself is a further impossibility, as all individuals are products of their community and must relate to the powers of each other.

My series of installations have all attempted to deal with this intangible paradigm, through the use of lights, a domestic material that conveys the human power energy element of the installations. The notion of representing a community, within this context is developed from the study of the fall of light and the rise of shadow. Placing a group of lights together creates a light-mass, much of which overlaps, the same way that the community members overlap. That, and individuals or light who happen to overlap have the similarities, though the light source is seen to emanate from a discrete and individual bulb. Within the context of Aboriginality, these issues arise when people analyse and discount the parts that don’t overlap the areas of shadow which is the difference of such an exchange of energies.

This fall of light and the rise of shadow, as an installation operates within particular environments, reflecting their mass onto the walls and floors and ceilings, creating meditative environments and places in- between spaces like sounds. Understanding the relationship between the social structure and the individual, and community to communities, their symbolic relationship is now intrinsic for developing an understanding of the political and social environment of Australia and the world considering recent global events. Many communities have marginalised within the greater framework of Anglo-Australian society. Indigenous communities have been constantly forced to become homogenised due to government assimilation policies. Aboriginal Australian identity and their individuality has been significantly repressed. This condition of course is reflected in many other indigenous communities across the world.

My Light installations provide a contemporary urban Indigenous perspective on these ethnopolitical notions, and act as a platform for understanding the operations of the community and the Individual, in the interests of a national community. Much of my installation post-production work analysing the relationship between the community and the individual results in the development of diagrams and drawings. These diagrams are constructed like maps, that plot individuals, their positions and movements and in turn create the models we might call graphic communities. These diagrams are constructed with graphed points, circles and lines. The circles look at the concept of growth and development, describing the human element of change, individualism and time representing continuous flow. While the lines of the drawings are an attempt to look at the physical constructs that frame the ‘economics’ of a community, the lines communication, the infrastructures and the localities, of all that constructs the basic fundamentals of a community are fundamentally the modal directions of individuals.

This map- like state is transferred into the installation through the use of the extended and patterning constructed by using white power cords attached to the lights bulb fittings. This luminous work, of light and cord drawing, transgresses space and operates within the physical power constructs of a given environment place. At that same time the luminosities manifest their own individual spaces and physical languages within a given location as the power cord entwines and the lights shadow–cast their particular energies.

Reprinted with permission of the author.


Jonathan Jones

Sydney-based Aboriginal artist Jonathan Jones, a member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations of south-east Australia, works across a range…

Sydney-based Aboriginal artist Jonathan Jones, a member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations of south-east Australia, works across a range of mediums, from printmaking and drawing to sculpture and film. He creates site-specific installations and interventions into space that use light, subtle shadow and the repetition of shape and materiality to explore Indigenous practices, relationships and ideas.

Jones often works with everyday materials, such as fluorescent lights and blue tarpaulin, recycled and repurposed to explore relationships between community and the individual, the personal and public, historical and contemporary. 

He has worked on several major public art commissions, including the Commonwealth Parliament Offices in Sydney and Wagga Wagga Regional Airport. In past projects, Jones has sought to represent both the traditional and contemporary by working with the particular site’s historical usage and current vision. Often perceived as oppositional, these two frameworks are in fact linked, sharing commonalities and connections; Jones’s artworks serve to honour both contexts.

At the heart of Jones’s practice is the act of collaborating, and many projects have seen him work in conjunction with other artists and communities to develop outcomes that acknowledge local knowledge systems to connect the site with local concerns.

Jones has exhibited both nationally and internationally: in Australia at Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and overseas at the Palazzo delle Papesse Contemporary Art Centre, Siena, Italy, and Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg, Canada, among others. In 2014, Jones was awarded Kaldor Public Art Projects’ Your Very Good Idea.