Joan Jonas Selected as Next Visual Arts Mentor for Rolex Arts Initiative

Jonas will choose an emerging visual artist to mentor for a year.

Joan Jonas.
Image: via

American performance and video artist Joan Jonas will serve as the 2016–2017 visual arts mentor for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Jonas’s selection was announced Sunday night in Mexico City during the biennial Rolex Arts Weekend, the culminating event in celebration of the 2014–2015 mentoring year, which also spotlights masters of architecture, literature, film, music, theater, and dance.

The mentors for the new mentoring year are David Chipperfield for architecture, Mia Couto for literature, Alfonso Cuarón for film, Philip Glass for music, Robert Lepage for theater, and Ohad Naharin for dance, each of whom will be paired with an emerging artist in their respective fields and share their time and expertise over the course of the upcoming year.

Joan Jonas at the American Pavilion. Photo: Job Piston

Joan Jonas at the American Pavilion.
Photo: Job Piston

In the spring of 2016, each of the mentors will personally select his or her protégé from a group of finalists, chosen anonymously by a nominating board. The Rolex Arts Initiative, which is beginning its eighth cycle, allows participants to spend a year in creative collaboration, the masters supporting, guiding, and collaborating with the young artists. Each mentor is expected to spend six weeks with their protégé, who will receive 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,000), half of which is meant to be used at the end of the mentoring year to create a new work. Otherwise, the pairs have complete freedom over their interactions.

“These seven artists have had a profound influence on their disciplines for decades and are held in high esteem by the public and their peers,” said Rebecca Irvin, head of philanthropy at Rolex, in a statement. “We acknowledge their generosity in serving as mentors in the Rolex Arts Initiative. They will join the family of internationally acclaimed artists who have committed to passing on their passion and expertise to a younger generation and to be reinvigorated in their own art in return.”


Joan Jonas, Volcano Saga (1985) Performing Garage, New York (1987).
Courtesy Yvon Lambert.

Described as a “titan of the American avant garde” by the Guardian, Jonas represented the US at the 2015 Venice Biennale, with a multimedia installation that drew huge crowds at the US pavilion.

The 2016–2017 advisory board who suggested the mentors included Los Angeles County Museum of Art director Michael Govan, and artists Shirin Neshat and Xu Bing.

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