Joan Jonas, NA Wins $900,000 Kyoto Prize

Joan Jonas, NA and a friend.

Joan Jonas, NA and a friend.

The Inamori Foundation in Japan has announced that Joan Jonas has won its 2018 Kyoto Prize for Art, which comes with 100 million yen (more than $900,000) and a 20-karat gold medal. (The Kyoto Prize also goes to leaders in the technology and science worlds.) After she receives the award in November, Jonas will give a lecture to commemorate her win. She has also been invited to participate in the Kyoto Prize Symposium, which takes place next year in San Diego, California, from March 19 to 21.

Jonas is well known for her performances and video installations that focus on the relationship between viewers’ bodies and various surfaces, such as screens and mirrors. Her work has been considered central to feminist art history, and critics often regard her pieces from the 1970s as pioneering examples of early video and performance art. Jonas has steadily produced new work with a mystical, inquisitive spirit in the years since, and New Yorkers can currently see the U.S. premiere of her latest performance, Moving Off the Land, which focuses on the ocean and its role in our lives, at Danspace Project in the East Village.

A release announcing her win reads, in part, “Jonas created a new form of artistic expression in the early 1970s by integrating performance art with video. Through labyrinth-like works that lead audiences to diverse interpretations, she hands down the legacy of 1960s avant-garde art by developing it into a postmodern framework, profoundly impacting artists of later generations.”

The Kyoto Prize is one of many accolades Jonas has garnered over the past few decades. She is the winner of the Guggenheim Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the American Film Institute’s Maya Deren Award for Video, the Whitechapel Gallery’s Art Icon Award, and, most importantly, a special mention by the Venice Biennale, where she represented the United States in 2015. Tate Modern in London held a survey of Jonas’s work earlier this year.