fbpx Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: bones tan jones | CIRCA 20:23

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: bones tan jones

bones tan jones, EOS Radio at Museum Angewandte Kunst, 2022

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve by Alfredo Jaar offers a powerful reflection on the limits of language and the role of creative expression in times of tragedy. A lament for today’s darkness and a call to find the words to confront these tragic hours, the bold new public intervention displays the arresting title of a poem by Adrienne Rich (1929–2012), a figure of inspiration for Jaar since the 1980s, who observed the limits of words in times of unthinkable violence: “no poetry can serve to mitigate such acts, they nullify language itself,” she wrote in 2011. Throughout November 2023, Alfredo Jaar and CIRCA commissioned a series of poetic dialogues, curated by Vittoria de Franchis, from international writers, thinkers and speakers. Giving voice to those who find themselves silenced or without words, the poems hope to achieve Rich’s ambition that creative expression can reconcile conflicting realities.


We are going through a very repressive moment, when nuance is lost and free speech is threatened. But I strongly believe that the spaces of art and culture must remain spaces of freedom. Artists will not be intimidated. In this environment, I have turned to the words of anti-war campaigner and poet Adrienne Rich to reflect both the limits of language and the frustration felt by many that voices for peace and justice cannot sound out as clearly as we wish. And, as part of the CIRCA commission, I am turning to today’s poets, writers, and artists, to support a forum for creative expression where the clear-sighted demands of humanity and empathy can be heard. In these times when politics have failed us miserably, art and culture are our only hope. Art is like the air we breathe, without art, life would be unlivable. Art creates spaces of resistance, spaces of hope.


chaos breathing by bones tan jones


when you breathe in, do u notice the scent of chaos in the air?

when you breathe in, do you feel the rebellion moving through your lungs? 

when you breathe in, i hope you know that this air is the same air as the stranger opposite you on the train, the same dirty, polluted particles recycled through all of our lungs deep underground on our commute. 

racing along screeching metal tracks to unknown locations, my ears bleed. the roar of revolution sounds more beautiful then that.

we take 10,000 steps along concrete streets and 10,000 more. walking to the same rhythm as a drum, a chant, a song. 

when you breathe in, do you exhale with the same awareness of scent and feeling? do you transform that inhale into a call to action, a prayer an exaltation ?

when you breathe in, let that breath go deeper and deeper until your ribcage cracks open leaving your heart laid bare

when you breathe in, let your exhale be a shrill cry for revolution, tearing through the asphalt, and may your tears become seeds in the unearthed soil



Hand-signed limited edition print by Alfredo Jaar, £120+VAT. Proceeds will be donated to Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. Available here.




bones tan jones (b.’93 Liverpool) is a queer heretic whose work traverses materials, disciplines and time lines.

raised in a church choir in the northwest of the UK, on the borderlands of mythical Wales and enchanted England, tan jones’s work has ne’er strayed far from the ecclesiastic rituals of worship, only in tan jones’s world, the church has been burnt, the yew trees thrive in the ashes, and god is trans.

bones tan jones presents their living praxis ‘optimystic dystopia’ as a spiritual practice. an eternal storyteller, alternative realities are explored through alter egos, retellings of ancient Chinese and Celtic mythologies through creating; symphonies/operas/psalms/triptychs/sigils/stele/installations/interventions/inter-active workshops.

remaining open, so the ancestors can speak through, bones has collaborated with the ghosts of dead artists, unknowingly channelled ancient seal script inscriptions of their families’ clan symbol, and sung many a lullaby in the belly of trees thousands of years on this land.

this, is the work. this, is the way.

all tools, souvenirs and tales collected on the way are offered up to you, as an art, of sorts.

YaYa Bones is a musical alter ego. in another timeline, YYBNS (alternative spelling) is a chart topping pop star on the dark web, selling out stadiums shows full of d0xxed warlocks in hiding, to refereeing at underground HRT fight rings.

Pondfloor is a musical collaboration with Magda Onatra.

bones tan jones’s selected recent commissions, performances and exhibitions include: ‘Tunnel Visions’ at Queercircle, London (2022); ‘Portal Spiral Monolith’ at Well Projects, Margate (2022); ‘Queer Earth and Liquid Matters, Serpentine Galleries, London (2022); ‘Milano Re-mapped’ at Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2022); ‘New Worlds’ at Somerset House, London (2022); MU, Netherlands (2022); Shanghai Biennale (2021); Athens Biennale (2021); Solo show at Underground Flower Offsite (2020); Serpentine Galleries, London (2019); IMT Gallery, London (2019); Mimosa House, London (2018); ICA, London (2018-2020); Cell Project Space, London (2018); Gropius Bau, Berlin (2018); Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2016-17).