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Paul Ramirez Jonas

“I create as I speak"

I have always considered myself merely a reader of texts. The pre-existing text can be anything that I can treat as a score: a diary, a plan, an old photo, a footpath, sheet music, etc. The reading can take the form of a performance, a sculpture, a photo, or a video. Thus, a musical score may result in a sculpture, and a travelogue in a video, or the plans for a flying machine in a photo. In my artworks, what looks like invention is but re-enactment, and what seems to be exploration is but walking in someone else’s footsteps. 

Being a reader, don’t I have more in common with the public than with the author? It is that commonality that I find inspiring in working with pre-existing materials. This was the basis of most of my work through out the nineties. I am still working from this heart felt premise. However, I see my role extending beyond being a private reader, and into someone who invites viewers to join in.

The result of this shift is the reassertion of a contract between the artwork and its public. This contract stipulates that the works are here for them (you). You must give to receive; the work needs you: even if it is just a penny, a wish, a silent recitation, or the consent in the copying of one of your keys.

Paul Ramirez Jonas holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design (1989) and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University (1987). His honors include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, ArtMatters, the Howard Foundation, the International Studio Program in Sweden, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts, among others. Paul Ramírez Jonas' selected solo exhibitions include The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut, The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas; a survey at Ikon Gallery (UK) and Cornerhouse (UK); Alexander Gray Gallery (NYC); Roger Björkholmen (Sweden); and Postmasters Gallery (NYC). He has been included in group exhibitions at the Gallery for Contemporary Art Leipzig (Germany); P.S.1 (NYC); The Whitechapel (UK); Irish Museum of Modern Art (Ireland); Künstlerhaus (Austria); The New Museum (NYC); and Kunsthaus Zurich (Switzerland). He has participated in the Johannesburg Biennale; the Seoul Biennial, the Shanghai Biennial; the 28th Sao Paulo Biennial; and the 53rd Venice Biennial. He has taught at R.I.S.D, Cal Arts, Columbia Universtiy, New York Universtiy, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. He is a professor at Hunter College (NYC). Profiled in ArtForum, Zing, ARTnews, New York Times, Art in America and others. He has built permanent projects in Cambridge, MA and a permanent public sculpture for the Hudson River Park, New York City. In 2010, Creative Time presented his “Key to the City” project in New York City.