Commissioned by Dokumenta XI in 2002, Jonas' multimedia performance piece Lines in the Sand takes up two works by the poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)—Helen in Egypt (1955) and Tribute to Freud (1944)—as source material. Narrated by Jonas, Lines in the Sand transposes H.D.'s re-working of the story of Helen of Troy to present-day Las Vegas, with the Luxor Hotel as a key motif. This 47-minute video is a document of Jonas' layered theatrical performance, which features the artist and performers interacting with large-scale video projections, ritualized objects and a rich sound collage. An exploration of the liberation of the self, Lines in the Sand (created in 2002, just prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq) also references contemporary political realities; the title echoes the first President Bush's declaration to Saddam Hussein at the start of the Gulf War.
Work based on "Helen in Egypt," a poem by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle). Intercut with "A Tribute to Freud" by H.D. Performers: Ragani Haas, Joan Jonas, Sung Hwan Kim, Henk Visch. Live Camera: Sung Hwan Kim. Music/Sound, in collaboration: Paul Miller a.k.a. D.J. Spooky, Stephen Vitiello. Video Documentation/Camera: Joan Logue. Live Video Remix: Astrid Klein. Live Sound Remix: Stephen Vitiello. Video Back Drop Camera & Editing: Joan Jonas. Additional Camera: Eric Moskowitz, Kristen Weiner. Video Performance: Joan Jonas. Additional Video Performance: Curtis Fairman, Kristen Weiner. Music in Remix: Natacha Atlas, The Carter Family, Scotty Fitzgerald, Harry Partch, Eric Satie, Yoruba Drums from Benin, West Africa. Documentary Editors: Pia Lindstrom, Edward Kihn, Joan Joans. The project Lines in the Sand was commissioned by Documenta XI, 2002.