The Portrait Project
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We visited the studio of Joan Jonas, our SoHo neighbor and a friend of MZW co-founder Monica, to talk about her practice, her inspirations, and emerging in the New York art scene during the 60s and 70s.


Joan Jonas

Current Location:

New York



5 words that best describe you:

walker, dancer, dreamer, comic, cook

Favorite color?


Where do you find inspiration?

Walking on the beach, listening to music, looking at art, playing with Ozu (my dog)

What's your fondest memory of New York City?

As a child listening to the boats on the East river

What are you reading right now?

Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust, Stranger Magic by Marina Warner, The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, This Cold Heaven by Gretel Ehrlich

What event in your lifetime marked you the most?

Leaving home. Seeing the Hopi Snake dance. My first trip to Japan. Going to Cape Breton.

What objects do you collect?

Stones, masks, bells, books, kites, mirrors, sticks

Favorite animal?


What's your idea of the perfect New York day?

Early spring on the Hudson

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have 1 object, what would it be?

A boat

What's inside your handbag right now?

A flashlight

What's the best advice someone ever gave you?

There are no mistakes.

What’s been one of the most challenging parts of your career?

Once again, how to begin again

What’s your most prized possession?

An ability to not have a most prized possession

What qualities in others do you most admire?

Humor, consideration, brilliance, courage

If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be?

Hilda Doolittle

See Joan Jonas' Reanimation performance this month as part of Performa 13. Find out more information here: