LTR: Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven, winner Prix de Rome 2019 Rory Pilgrim, Queen Máxima, director Mondriaan Fund Eelco van der Lingen. Photo: Shinji Otani
LTR: Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven, winner Prix de Rome 2019 Rory Pilgrim, Queen Máxima, director Mondriaan Fund Eelco van der Lingen. Photo: Shinji Otani

Rory Pilgrim wins Prix de Rome Visual Arts 2019

Artist Rory Pilgrim (Bristol, 1988) received the Prix de Rome Visual Arts 2019 from the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, in the presence of Queen Máxima.
Pilgrim received this award for his new film The Undercurrent (2019-ongoing). The award comes with a 40,000 Euros cash prize and a work period at the American Academy in Rome. The Prix de Rome is awarded once every two years to a talented visual artist in the Netherlands.

Rory Pilgrim, The Undercurrent, 2019-ongoing. Exhibition Prix de Rome 2019, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo: Bas Czerwinski

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. The jury greatly appreciates how the artist has engaged with this group and also values his intention to continue the collaboration in other ways. This characterizes the integrity of the project and makes the jury curious about a follow-up. Not only has Pilgrim shown himself as a master in making films that combine cinematography, music, content, form and topicality, but it is also obvious that he has a great and genuine sense of commitment.
The jury was unanimous in its decision to award the Prix de Rome Visual Arts 2019 to 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-ongoing, 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

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. Furthermore, the jury appreciates the freedom with which she 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, according to the jury.

Click here for the jury report.