Jo Mitchell’s work treads the boundaries of both personal and mediated narratives and histories, taking as its starting point particular references from often sub-cultural themes and oeuvres such as tattoo, graffiti, genre films, experimental music and related paraphernalia. These interests and interventions reveal themselves through her practice in a range of media such as text-based collage, photographs, wall-painting and video installations and most recently, performance.
Mitchell’s works often presents us with an immediacy and literalness that belies the intricate staging and labour-intensive process of their creation. The photo pieces display an explicit playfulness reworking what could be seen as “underground” or incidental images into iconic symbols of constructed sexuality and identity. Her early work Girl on a Motorcycle (after Style B, 1968) re-images the publicity poster from the sexploitation film of the same name giving a personal articulation of the manipulated desire inherent in the original ultimately curtailing any sense of “real” narrative. This theme is followed through in her Angels series which constructs a hybrid Lara Croft-cum-Hell’s Angels archetype. Posing for the camera in a similarly cropped composition with focus on midriff and lower body, the potential suggested by the loaded iconography is again curtailed through a willful objectification by being literally “sprayed-up” as a colour-coded variant of the original is produced.
Jo Mitchell was born in Northamptonshire in 1965, graduated from Goldsmiths with her MA in Fine Art in 1999 and lives & works in London. She is most recently known for her performance of ‘Concerto for Voice & Machinery II’, an ICA re-enactment commission presented in February 2007. She is currently working on her latest performance, based on John Cage’s 4’ 33”, as part of the Kunstverein Bregenz summer festival in Austria.