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23 november 2020 | Nieuws

Alternative award ceremony Piket Art Prizes 2020: Balloons and a golden throne

At three different moments this afternoon, a door opens and an unsuspecting nominee is ushered into a room decorated with balloons in the Piket colours. “You’ve won the Piket Art Prize!!”

The three winners have been lured to this location by friends and acquaintances with some plausible excuse, and are absolutely flabbergasted. Fortunately, off camera, master of ceremonies Casper Vandeputte (a 2015 nominee in the Dramatic Arts category) is all set to receive them. “Of course there should have been a big party,” he explains after the dumbfounded winner has settled down on the golden throne in the centre of the room. “But because of Corona that’s impossible right now. Which is why the Piket Team has arranged a small party for you, to present you with the Piket award and the cheque. We’ve also invited a few nice people to speak gratifying words that will make you happy. It’s such a pity we can’t have champagne together afterwards!” Casper also reassures the lucky ones by telling them they are not live on camera. Yes, we’re filming, but the footage will be used for the Piket Art Prizes website.

Winners 2020

Painting: Lorena van Bunningen
“O gosh, I really have to recover from the shock,” Lorena says. “I hadn’t expected this at all.” She relaxes when her photography coach Elspeth Diederix speaks a few kind words: “I’m excited about your work. I really look forward to what you’re going to make in the years to come!” Lorena’s friend and business partner Majda Vidakovic is here too. Due to circumstances, Majda en Lorena haven’t seen each other for some time and it’s an emotional moment for both of them. “Your work is a delicacy,” Majda says. “Your passion for your work is endless. You deserve this.” Jury member Suzanne Swarts (Museum Voorlinden) reads the jury report: “Lorena has her very own way to manipulate everyday reality. She detaches ordinary utensils from their original contexts and turns them into the subject of her work. She has a highly developed eye for detail and a fine aesthetic sense. Because of this, she manages to genuinely re-present her fascination for the beauty of small ordinary things, that are often overlooked in our hectic times. Her personal outlook, coloured by her background, enables her to create her own world full of new narratives – a world of tranquil scenes allowing the viewer to truly observe the many things we tend to take for granted.

Lorena has a thoroughly professional attitude and is very much aware of her own work. She is not unfamiliar with ambition. The jury is impressed with the passionate and perseverant attitude she displays. According to the jury, artist and work have now reached a point where introspection and experiment are called for. Regarding both her work and her own position, Lorena demonstrates a need and a capacity for research and growth. The jury recognizes the quality of her current work and believes in the potential of this artist.”

Managing to keep the required distance in mind, Suzanne’s follow jury member Joncquil de Vries presents Lorena with the special cheque, representing 8,000 Euros. The award is waiting on a small table next to the throne. “I am truly overwhelmed,” Lorena says after photographs have been taken. What makes her particularly happy is the fact that the prize will give her more time for her work. When Casper asks her what she’ll do when she leaves the premises, she has only one answer: ‘Just let it sink in.”

Dance: Boston Gallacher
Boston, too, is totally overwhelmed: “Great surprise…confused…” Choreographer Marina Mascarell Martinez expresses her gratitude for Boston’s commitment in deconstructing barriers. “An enlightened dancer with whom to share the studio is a present for every maker,” she says. NDT colleague and housemate Keren Leiman describes Boston as a “mythical nymph pixie creature” and speaks of the huge depth she feels when she watches Boston dance. Boston is impressed by so many beautiful words. With a radiant smile: “It’s a bit like I’ve died, like being at your own funeral…” When jury member Stacz Wilhelm (former artistic director Korzo dance productions) reads the jury report, there are even more laudatory terms: “When the jury nominated Boston Gallacher for the first time, two years ago, the nomination was based on them promises that Boston’s undeniable talent carried. But since then Boston went through a spectacular development and fulfilled these promises in every respect. Boston just blows us away. The completely natural way in which they combine their virtuosity as a dancer with a radical openness for different inputs makes them stand out. Their sophisticated curiosity stretches the boundaries of each vocabulary they are dancing in, and gives the concept of otherness a face. The jury is therefore immensely curious to see how Boston will meet new challenges, and will develop their potential to go beyond artistic borders even more.” After fellow jury member Isabelle Chaffaud (MEYER-CHAFFAUD) has presented Boston with the cheque and photos have been made, Casper enquires whether Boston already has ideas for the prize money. Boston hasn’t really reflected on this yet, but “I have zero savings so this is really going to help.” And how will Boston spend the rest of the afternoon? “Back to the studio for rehearsals…” Well, no champagne, but it’s unlikely to be ‘just another afternoon’.

Dramatic Arts: Tessa Jonge Poerink
For Tessa it’s “like I’m in a dream.” Tessa’s dear friend, director Kasper Scholten, is the first to address her. “You had to redefine the norm,” he says. “You wouldn’t be stopped by anyone or anything.” The next speaker is Tessa’s father who, naturally, also speaks on behalf of her mother: “You absolutely deserve this and we are so happy for you! We know it definitely isn’t always easy for you.”

Jury member Antoinette Jelgersma (The National Theatre) reads the jury report: “Tessa has great performer qualities. As an actress she is instantly part of the stage situation and immediately involves the viewer. Tessa’s voice makes it clear that the emotions of her character flow organically from her imagination. She handles her text expertly – you can hear that she is aware of what she is saying. She has demonstrated that she is able to reach every corner of even the largest house. Tessa also has an uninhibited side. She is not afraid to be unconventional. This boldness and shamelessness speak of a wide spectrum that is remarkable in someone of Tessa’s age. The jury is curious about Tessa’s initiatives as a theatre maker. The prize is also meant as an encouragement to develop her own project.” Fellow jury member John de Weerd (Zaal 3 and De Parade) presents Tessa with the cheque. Dauntless and delighted, she is ready to have her picture taken. “These are such weird times,” she says when Casper enquires after her plans. ‘All my projects were cancelled. My generation is really in something of a panic. So financially it’s just great… it’s really crisis.” Since the jury clearly hopes Tessa will develop her own project, she says she is happy that the prize will give her time to think things over. As for the rest of the afternoon: “I just have to recover from what happened during the past twenty minutes.”

No Piket Jury Prize this year

Jury president Winnie Sorgdrager explains why the jury decided unanimously not to award the Piket Jury Prize this year. The prize provides the jury with an opportunity to reward someone for his or her cultural activities in the The Hague region, especially if these are directed towards young artists. It is very much a prize for someone who is not usually in the limelight, but operates in the background, behind the scenes. A festive award ceremony in a theatre filled with enthusiastic guests creates an opportunity to bring such a person out of the shadows. This year it is, unfortunately, impossible to create such a memorable moment, and the jury felt that this would literally take the shine off things. They sincerely hope that next year they will be able to put someone in the spotlight again.

The Piket award 2020

This year the Piket Art Prizes awards were made by Suzie van Staaveren, a 2017 nominee in the Painting category. Suzie was inspired by the little stone ‘towers’ which in mountainous areas help you to navigate when the path seems to peter out. The little boulders are found material, which means the awards are all different. Suzie cast the base in bronze, just like the top ‘stone’ which was cast in a mould made from a real boulder. “Those little stone men are more than just road markers,” Suzie explained in an interview earlier this year. “They also tell you that you’re not alone, that people have been there before. The art world can be hard to navigate. The stone man is a gesture of solidarity and support. This is what I want the awards to convey.”

An exceptional year

When it became clear that it would be impossible to organize a ‘real’ award ceremony, the Piket Team did its utmost to create a festive alternative which, despite the situation, would be a happy memory for the winners. This rescheduling also meant that the winners were announced somewhat earlier than usual. It is truly a great pity that the other nominees could not be present today because of the restrictions of the Corona measures. However, unlike other years, today’s winners and also Ciro Duclos and Afra Eisma (Painting), Lukas Karvelis and Hester Seelen (Dance), and Shah Tabibi and Billy de Walle (Dramatic Arts) last July each received the sum of 2,000 Euros in financial support. In this way everyone could, to at least some extent, be a winner in this exceptional year.

Text: Anna Beerens
Photo’s: Janneke van Beek