Home Magazine The american artist Joan Jonas wins 2018 Kyoto Prize

The Inamori Foundation in Japan has revealed the winners of this year’s Kyoto Prize, which is presented annually in each of the following categories: advanced technology, basic sciences, and arts and philosophy. The recipients—neurologist Karl Deisseroth, mathematician Masaki Kashiwara, and artist Joan Jonas—will each be presented with a twenty-karat gold medal and more than $900,000.

Born in New York in 1936, Jonas is an American visual artist and a pioneer of video and performance art who is one of the most important female artists to emerge in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Jonas' projects and experiments provided the foundation on which much video performance art would be based. Her influences also extended to conceptual art, theatre, performance art and other visual media. She lives and works in New York and Nova Scotia, Canada. Jonas originally trained as a sculptor but soon became a pioneer of performance and video art. Deeply influenced by the work of Trisha Brown, with whom she studied dance, as well as by John Cage and Claes Oldenburg, Jonas is known for producing work that engages with myths, rituals, poems, folk songs, and texts from around the world.


Joan Jonas with her dog inside the Atelier.


 Joan Jonas, Wind, 1968.


Founded by Kazuo Inamori, chairman emeritus of the Kyocera Corporation in 1984, the international award honors those who have made significant contributions to the scientific, cultural, and spiritual betterment of mankind. In March of next year, Jonas will give a lecture at the Kyoto Prize Symposium, which will take place in San Diego, California. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Jonas represented the United States at the Fifty-Sixth Venice Biennale, which took place in 2015. She also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2009. A longtime educator, Jonas has taught at the State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart in Germany and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for many years. An exhibition dedicated to the artist’s work—the largest survey to be held in the UK—is currently on view at Tate Modern in London.


I also felt a desire to work outside the conventional spaces of museums, galleries, and  theaters, and to question the point of view of the audience. I step in and out of my work in order to direct its perception. Other references for me, as I thought about the nature of illusion, were the circus and magic shows that I had seen as a child, and the idea of alchemy, the transformation of material or of the psyche. (Joan Jonas, speech about Mirror Pieces, 1936)


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