Opening exhibition and award ceremony Prix de Rome

The exhibition of the Prix de Rome 2017 can be seen from 2 December at  the Kunsthal in Rotterdam. From that moment on every one can discover the new work made by the four nominated artists: Melanie Bonajo, Rana Hamadeh, Saskia Noor van Imhoff and Katarina Zdjelar, during a preceding five month work period. The winner will be announced at Friday 15th of December.

The past five months each artist was given the opportunity to create new work on which they will be judged by an international jury. The winning artist will receive 40,000 euros and a residency at the American Academy in Rome.
The exhibition is on show until the 25th of February 2018. During the opening an accompanying catalogue about the work of the nominated artists will be presented. The publication contains texts written by Maria Barnas, Julia Mullié and Laurens Otto. The catalogue is published by nai010.

The jury made its selection of the four finalists from a list of 111 artists who were proposed by scouts, third parties or by themselves. In their selection of candidates for the shortlist, criteria like an innovative attitude, the layered structure of the work and further potential for development played a key role. Furthermore, the jury was looking for an artist who could grow at international level too and who would be a good representative of the current Dutch art world. The jury was looking for work that reflects on the time in which we live.
The jury consists of Ferran Barenblit (director MACBA, Barcelona), Mariette Dölle (director Museum Kranenburgh, Bergen), Folkert de Jong (visual artist), Petra Noordkamp (visual artist), Francesco Stocchi (curator Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam).The chair is held by Birgit Donker (director Mondriaan Fund).

Please find a description of the works below.

Melanie Bonajo, Progress vs. Sunsets, HD video, still, 2017
Melanie Bonajo (Heerlen, 1978) lives and works in Amsterdam. She studied at the Rietveld Academy and was a resident at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam and the ISCP in New York. Her work consists of films, performances and installations about technological developments and the increasing alienation that the contemporary person experiences with regard to his/her nature. Can we send funny animal movies from the Internet into space for aliens in order for them to discover our ecosystem?
This and other questions are the ones that Bonajo investigates for the second part of her trilogy, Progress vs. Sunsets (2017), that she develops for the 2017 Prix de Rome. Contrary to more traditional nature documentaries, Bonajo intends to show how our relation to nature has changed through the popularity of amateur films in which animals have become actors of human imagination.
She does this by watching the films through the eyes of children. Her new film indirectly raises the issue of animal rights in relation to biodiversity, capitalism, increasing urbanization and the western rationalist tradition. In the near future, will children react against adults, and form a separatist movement to start their own society?

Rana Hamadeh, The Sleepwalkers, film still, work commissioned by The Showroom, Nottingham Contemporary & Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane

Rana Hamadeh (Beirut/Lebanon, 1983) lives and works in Rotterdam). She received her MFA from the Dutch Art Institute/ArtEZ in Enschede. She develops longstanding discursive projects like her large-scale opera project, The Ten Murders of Josephine. The first part of the opera can be regarded as a living, constantly changing sound game and is on show at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. Inherited from the genre of legal spectacle, and from Hamadeh’s earlier work on the relations of justice and theatre, The Ten Murders of Josephine explores the constitutive conditions of ‘validity’ within legal discourse. It asks, among other questions, ‘How can one testify, in the present, to what has been erased by colonial, racial and patriarchal violence?’. And can testimony itself operate outside the violent logics of erasure that constitute legal language?’ In response to these questions, Hamadeh’s opera can be understood as a cacophonous monument to absent, erased and mad speech; to all that is unmarked and unmarkable; unspoken and unspeakable. The work that Hamadeh is developing for the Prix de Rome will be an act of the opera, which will be performed as a whole on 14 and 15 December at Schouwburg Rotterdam.
Saskia Noor van Imhoff, #+28,06, 2017 (detail). Installation view solo show #+28.00 Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam, 2017. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
Saskia Noor van Imhoff (Mission, Canada, 1982) lives and works in Amsterdam. She studied at the Rietveld Academy and was a resident at De Ateliers and Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. Her fascination with the systems of exhibiting, archiving and conserving art objects gives rise to layered installations. Van Imhoff takes the arrangements that art institutions apply to their collection, the context that determines the value and truth of an object, and the architecture that forms part of this narrative, and she uses these for her own associative reading of new connections between art and the everyday. Her installations are built up from a rich diversity of original and found objects, artworks by herself and others, texts, diagrams, an archive of images found online, and the documentation of previous exhibitions.
In her installation for the Prix de Rome, #+31.00, Van Imhoff investigates how a space may serve as an artificial showcase, in which various subjects are connected to each other in an associative way, so as to form a new meaning. The showcase does not just literally serve as form, but as a time interval that can be connected to a personal, mental and physical state. Objects in a showcase are presented as static, as if in a vacuum; in a similar way, we attempt to smooth down and conserve ourselves. In #+31.00, Van Imhoff asks herself where something begins. Doesn’t the dissection of a subdued system in itself create a new construction? How do invisible, immaterial and associative properties of a space define our understanding of our surroundings?

Katarina Zdjelar, film still formm new work for Prix de RomeKatarina Zdjelar (Belgrade/ SFRY, 1979) lives and works in Rotterdam. She studied at Piet Zwart Instituut, Rotterdam, among other academies. In her videos, audio works and other projects, she explores how people perform and reinvent their own identities, using language, their voice and bodily gestures to move within and between cultures and societies.

Her new film for the Prix de Rome is inspired by archival documents from a dance studio founded in 1945 in post-war Dresden, whose choreographies echoed the graphic works of artist Käthe Kollwitz.  The artistic meeting between Kollwitz and the founder of this studio alongside their political and social affinities forms the departure point for Zdjelar’s new work for the Prix de Rome. Folding the past into the present, Zdjelar’s film engages with acts of maternal (proto) feminist pacifism, solidarity and collective transformation across the barriers of time, class and social difference. The results is a film in which the body becomes a site of resistance and possibility. Moving seamlessly between natural and staged actions and personae, Zdjelar’s films oscillate between artifice and reality, calling us to witness the ambiguity, struggle and beauty of human experience.

The Prix de Rome is the oldest and most generous Dutch award for visual artists below the age of 40. The purpose of the award is to identify talented visual artists and to encourage them to develop and increase their visibility. For Prix de Rome 2017 the Mondriaan Fund collaborates with Kunsthal Rotterdam (exhibition) and nai010 publishers (publication).

Exhibition shortlist artists
2 December 2017 – 25 February 2018 (opening on 1 December)
Kunsthal Rotterdam

Publication shortlist
1 December 2017