In 2019, artists Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen, Esiri Erheriene-Essi, Femke Herregraven and Rory Pilgrim were selected for the shortlist. They created new work especially for the prize, which was on display at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Visual artist Rory Pilgrim won the Prix de Rome Visual Arts 2019 for his film and sound installation The Undercurrent.
Winner Rory Pilgrim
Rory Pilgrim made the fifty-minute film The Undercurrent in which he transports the visitors to the world of a group of young people in the American city of Boise (Idaho). The film features beautiful cinematography, wonderful music, and is meticulously edited. Furthermore, the artist raises a number of topical issues in the film. Initially, climate change appears to be its most important theme, but gradually it becomes clear that the young people have other problems too. Some are fighting against gender inequality, others against their parents’ lack of understanding, and still others have become homeless. Central to this film is a house that appears to function as a sanctuary for the main characters. The concept of the sanctuary is also used for the protection of nature. In this way, the film is hinting at a subtle connection between the earth that needs attention and protection, and the young people who need a home for intimacy, security and their future. Pilgrim also created a home like that during the creative process for the film by intensively involving actors and locals The result is a disarming portrait of the insecurities, hopes and expectations of a generation, and what’s more a film that gives the young people an opportunity to address themselves directly to the viewer.
Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen
With Accidents Waiting to Happen, Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen made a total installation that shows that the hospital and the museum have more in common than expected. The combination of sculptures, performance, cameras, television screens and visitors causes unexpected interaction, The result is a layered work that offers different perspectives on choreography in medical institutes and art institutions, but also offers a poetic reflection on our own bodies.
Esiri Erheriene-Essi created a new series of paintings entitled The Inheritance (or Familiar Strangers), portraying the everyday lives of black people. These scenes are combined with archival material referring to political and social events in the history and struggle of the people from the African diaspora. In this way, the painter is able to provide a context for the situation the portrayed people were in at the time, and the lives they led. Esiri incorporates different styles of painting and patterns in her work. This gives them a collage-like quality that matches the artistic reconstruction of a forgotten history.
For Diving Reflex (Because We Learned Not To Drown, We Can Sing), Femke Herregraven has combined complex subjects in a layered installation that fits in with the diversity of her artistic practice. The new work has originated from her thorough research into catastrophe bonds, that are issued by insurance companies. The work points out that a catastrophe can also be a positive tipping point. The result is a surreal and topical scenario that (literally) resonates in the exhibition space. In the installation, the various components have been brought together in an intelligent way, offering a rich experience.
De jury of the Prix de Rome 2019 consists of: Lonnie van Brummelen (visual artist, winner Prix de Rome 2005); Amira Gad (artistic director Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul); Peter Gorschlüter (director Museum Folkwang, Essen); Frank Koolen (visual artist); Yasmijn Jarram (curator GEM, The Hague) and chair without voting rights Valentijn Byvanck (director Marres, House of Contemporary Culture, Maastricht).