The Inamori Foundation today announced that it has presented its 34th annual Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy to Joan Jonas, a professor emerita at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, during a Sat., Nov. 10 ceremony.
Jonas has exerted a pioneering influence on contemporary visual arts for nearly 50 years. In the early 1970s she established a new artistic form by integrating performance art and video. Her Vertical Roll (1972) is regarded as an archetype in the history of video art, integrating a live performance with its real-time video screened on a TV monitor onstage — including the discrepancy in time and space between audience viewpoints and camera angles, as well as the effect of electrical delay within the system.
Her masterpiece Reanimation (2010/2012/2013) is a labyrinth-like work filled with the nature and mythology of Iceland, along with drawings, sounds and segments of her own earlier art. The narrative structure of her works encourages audiences to decode the art in their own ways, and achieve diverse interpretations — including misinterpretations — rather than forcing them into preconceived conclusions.
Jonas has received many previous distinctions, including the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Maya Deren Award of the American Film Institute. Her rising influence is evident through her multimedia installation at the 2015 Venice Biennale, regarded by some as the world’s most influential art exhibition; her five-month exhibit at London’s Tate Modern this year, billed as the largest presentation of her art ever shown in the UK; and exhibits of her work planned for 2019 and 2020 at Japan’s Rohm Theatre and Kyoto City University of Arts.
The Kyoto Prize is Japan’s highest private award for global achievement, consisting of academic honors, a 20-karat gold medal, and a cash gift of 100 million yen (about US$880,000). Established by Dr. Kazuo Inamori in 1984, the Kyoto Prize has been presented to 108 individuals and one group (the Nobel Foundation) — collectively representing 17 nations. Individual laureates range from scientists, engineers and researchers to philosophers, painters, architects, sculptors, musicians and film directors. The United States has produced the most recipients (48), followed by Japan (23), the United Kingdom (12), and France (8). See all laureates by year at http://www.kyotoprize.org/en/laureates/list_by_year/.