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Exhibition Prix de Rome 2019 at Stedelijk Museum

Introduction room at exhibition Prix de Rome 2019 in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Design: Lesley Moore & Michiel Zegers. Films: Malse Media. Photo: Bas Czerwinski Introduction room at exhibition Prix de Rome 2019 in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Design: Lesley Moore & Michiel Zegers. Films: Malse Media. Photo: Bas Czerwinski

Until 22 March 2020 the Stedelijk Museum will host the exhibition Prix de Rome 2019. The nominated artists, Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen, Esiri Erheriene-Essi, Femke Herregraven and Rory Pilgrim, have developed new work especially for this occasion. In april 2019 these artist were selected by the international jury, after which they made new work during a working period of five months.

Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen

Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen, Accidents Waiting to Happen, 2019. Exhibition Prix de Rome 2019, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo: Daniel Nicolas

Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen, Accidents Waiting to Happen, 2019. Exhibition Prix de Rome 2019, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo: Daniel Nicolas

Since 2006, the artist duo Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen has developed a versatile oeuvre that encompasses elements borrowed from theatre, performance, dance and visual art. Their research into human behavior and gestures in specific environments culminates in installations that reflect and offer a subtle commentary on contemporary life.

Accidents Waiting to Happen has been specially developed for the Prix de Rome 2019. The work is based on the artists’ research into the body language and behavioral patterns that characterize the various roles that are “staged” in the hospital. Both the choreography and the life-size sculptures can be understood as a representation of the physical gestures and movements that express feelings of pain, boredom, or concentration in the hospital.

Like the hospital, the modern art museum is a knowledge institute, known for its white walls. And the museum also seeks to create a sterile environment – for the preservation of art. The artists consider both spaces as sites of contemplation, where one can view life from a distance. By repeating scenarios and gestures from the hospital in the museum, they integrate both environments into a new image. The result is a series of portraits—as well as ‘poses’—of the people typically found in the hospital: a patient, trauma surgeon, cleaner, board member and a nurse.

Note: The performance takes place until 1 November, daily during opening hours of the museum

Esiri Erheriene-Essi

Esiri Erheriene-Essi, The Inheritance (or Familiar Strangers), 2019, exhibition Prix de Rome 2019, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo: Daniel Nicolas

Esiri Erheriene-Essi, The Inheritance (or Familiar Strangers), 2019, exhibition Prix de Rome 2019, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo: Daniel Nicolas

The Inheritance (or Familiar Strangers) is a new series of paintings developed by Esiri Erheriene-Essi for the Prix de Rome 2019. Her painterly oeuvre consists predominantly of colorful figurative works that through the depiction of everyday life unravel and comment on our historical and contemporary societies.

Erheriene-Essi on her new work; “I am dedicated to making space for, celebrating and centering the voices, stories and contributions of people from the African diaspora within my work. Through my large paintings, I share these stories as records of the “normality” of black lives, of a black culture that is marginalized, in a world where I am made to always be an exception. The paintings depict the mundane as well as the political. Or, as I would say, depicting the mundane is (unfortunately) a political act.

Since 2016 I have been collecting old analogue family photos (from the 1950s until the 1980s), chronicling the people in the pictures as “familiar strangers.” The figures in my paintings come from this collection, which is an important visual and critical body for me. Through my paintings, I create a more humane narrative that challenges white-centric canonical histories. I want to show the richness of the “quiet histories” of ordinary lives that are often unknown, forgotten or neglected. What has been silenced, is now brought to the surface and is taking up space in the spotlight.”

Femke Herregraven

Femke Herregraven, Diving Reflex (Because We Learned Not to Drown, We Can Sing), 2019, exhibition Prix de Rome 2019, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo: Daniel Nicolas

Femke Herregraven, Diving Reflex (Because We Learned Not to Drown, We Can Sing), 2019, exhibition Prix de Rome 2019, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo: Daniel Nicolas

Femke Herregraven’s multimedia installations connect seemingly disparate conceptual and material elements. Her work focuses on the effects of abstract value systems on historiography and individual lives. This research is the basis for the conception of new characters, stories, and objects.

With Diving Reflex (Because We Learned Not to Drown, We Can Sing), the artist continues her research on the notion of the “catastrophe.” In classical Greek tragedy, this concept referred to the final resolution of the story and only became  linked to natural disasters in the eighteenth century. On the basis of the fictionalized characters “The Last Man” and Elaine Morgan, Herregraven speculates about survival strategies. She uses the human diving reflex as a conceptual tool to explore the meanings of catastrophe.

Catastrophe bonds, known as cat bonds, are central to Diving Reflex. In Western European countries, the future is mapped, calculated, and traded on financial markets on the basis of predictions about potential catastrophes. This seems to have already clinched the fate of “The Last Man,” who symbolizes privileged individuals who do nothing but repeat these scenarios of scarcity and despair. His antithesis appears in the form of Elaine Morgan, a character based on the eponymous Welsh feminist writer who attributes human development to the evolution of isolated primates in semi-aquatic environments. According to this water monkey hypothesis, the “diving reflex” created a neurological connection between the throat, mouth, and brain. This allowed people to hum/sing, and eventually develop speech. While Morgan’s diving reflex gives rise to a new voice, “The Last Man” gradually loses his.

The sound composition was created in collaboration with Benny Nilsen. With thanks to Naturalis Biodiversity Center.

Rory Pilgrim

Rory Pilgrim, The Undercurrent, 2019, exhibition Prix de Rome 2019, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Multimedia installation, courtesy andriesse eyck galerie, with special thanks to MING Studios and David Andrews (posters). Photo: Daniel Nicolas

Rory Pilgrim, The Undercurrent, 2019, exhibition Prix de Rome 2019, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Multimedia installation, courtesy andriesse eyck galerie, with special thanks to MING Studios and David Andrews (posters). Photo: Daniel Nicolas

The Undercurrent is a new film and sound installation by Rory Pilgrim, developed for the Prix de Rome 2019. Over the past decade, Pilgrim’s practice has been concerned with emancipatory questions that manifest in (live) performance, music, film, and text. He creates space for personal and embodied approaches to complex global developments, exploring different forms of connectivity and solidarity in the strive for social change.

In his latest work, Pilgrim negotiates the loss and violence of the ecological crisis on a deeply intimate scale, seeking to understand what it means to live through a crisis. During a residency at MING Studios in Boise, Idaho (US), the artist brought together a diverse group of young high school and college climate activists. Raising questions of home, visibility and security, a counter narrative takes shape, also including voices from the local homeless community.

Drawing upon methods of community cinema in the 1970s, Pilgrim established a series of dialogues that invited participants to examine what kind of agency the camera gives us to record and share experiences from our lives. Through workshops, collective field trips and personal vlogs, different filmic materials were gathered to address our current predicament. Soundtracked by an original orchestral score composed by Pilgrim, music and song flow throughout, exploring the emotional means we have to articulate crisis. In these uncertain times, The Undercurrent questions what makes us feel like we belong somewhere – is it a home, a country or each other?

Introduction room at exhibition Prix de Rome 2019 in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Design: Lesley Moore & Michiel Zegers. Films: Malse Media. Photo: Bas Czerwinski

Introduction room at exhibition Prix de Rome 2019 in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Design: Lesley Moore & Michiel Zegers. Films: Malse Media. Photo: Bas Czerwinski

Based on the new work the jury will select the winner of the Prix de Rome. This will be announced on 31 October by Ingrid van Engelshoven, Minister of Education, Culture and Science, in presence of her Majesty Queen Máxima. The private award ceremony will be streamed. The winner will receive 40,000 euros and a residency at the American Academy in Rome. For the Prix de Rome 2019 the Mondriaan Fund works together with the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

Stedelijk Museum, Museumplein 10 in Amsterdam
Open daily 10 am – 6 pm and Friday 10 am – 10 pm
On 31 October the exhibition will be closed from 2.30 – 4 pm
19 October 2019 to 22 March 2020
https://www.stedelijk.nl/en

On 31 October an accompanying publication is to appear, with texts by Sacha Bronwasser, Maarten Buser, Brenda Tempelaar and Sophia Zürcher.
Jap Sam Books, design by Lesley Moore, Dutch/English, illustrated.
144 pages, €15,00.
Pre-order here