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03 december 2021 | Nieuws

Piket Art Prizes award ceremony 2021: An intimate evening

In view of the soaring infection numbers, the Board of the Mr F.H. Piket Foundation at the eleventh hour felt compelled to abandon the plans for an event with an audience. This is why the Piket Art Prizes award ceremony of 22 November 2021 became an intimate evening focusing on three happy winners.


Music and a warm welcome

On the outside, the Scheveningen Lourdeskerk looks a little severe this cold autumn evening, but inside everything is ready for a party. Between the Piket banners on the podium, there is a table with three shining plume sculptures, this year’s trophy. Just in front of the podium there are chairs and low tables, properly placed at the required distance, for everyone present, especially of course the three winners and the small group of loved ones they were each allowed to bring. Unfortunately, most of this large former church will remain empty tonight, but the lighting is full of atmosphere, the candles on the tables make things really cosy, and thanks to the wonderful laid-back music performed by Vincent Koning (guitar) and Luciano Poli (bass) you might think you’re in a jazz club.

Vincent and Luciano have been engaged at the last moment, but it doesn’t sound like that at all. They are a fantastic duo and fully deserve the round of applause presenter Paula Udondek suggests after her word of welcome. Vincent and Luciano remain on stage and see to it that everyone can take a breath after each presentation. Needless to say, there’s also a round of applause for Louise de Blécourt and Taco Hovius, director and president of the Mr F.H. Piket Foundation respectively, who in their turn extend a warm welcome to tonight’s small audience. A backdrop projection shows the portraits of all nominees up till now. Hovius mentions that this is the eighth award ceremony, which means 72 portrait photographs. De Blécourt points out that the Foundation will continue to follow all of them.

Put a feather in your cap

After this Paula Udondek gives the floor to Yke Prins, who made the bronze plumes on their alabaster pedestals. She explains that she got the idea during a project with a group of Alzheimer patients. The project involved an art cabinet containing a number of sculptures, and the patients were asked to put a feather next to the object they liked best. There was one lady who didn’t want to give her feather away, but with an enormous grin put it down in front of herself. ‘She put a feather in her own cap,’ Yke says with a smile. And that is exactly what she would like her trophy to convey to the winners. ‘Have confidence in yourself. In times of doubt, put a feather in your own cap.’ Yke gave the bronze plumes a clever little grip so that they can be taken off their pedestals. In this way ‘putting a feather in your own cap’ becomes a genuine physical gesture.

Winners 2021

Painting: Narges Mohammadi

Martine Gosselink (Mauritshuis) tells us how she and her fellow jury member, visual artist Joncquil de Vries, cycled through The Hague in a headwind to visit their nominees’ studios, she herself behind on the carrier. It all reminded her of a scene from the notorious 1960s novel Turks Fruit (Turkish Delight). It was a long way to the winner’s studio, but once they were there, De Vries adds, “we were taken through a long corridor to an enchanting place.”
Winner Narges Mohammadi is impressed: ‘It still feels a little unreal, because I’m so much used to having to fight for everything.’ But she mainly feels gratitude for something that creates calm ‘in times of unrest and uproar.’

The Jury Report mentions that Narges came to the Netherlands from Afghanistan when she was seven and that, naturally, her personal experience plays a role in her work. However, “what she creates is more universal than ‘Afghanistan’ and goes beyond current debate. Narges exudes an immense urge to create and everything she makes is well considered.”

Dance: Katarina Van den Wouwer

Jury member Stacz Wilhelm (artistic advisor Dutch Dance Days) explains that, naturally, there were less live performances during the past year. Wilhelm and his fellow jury member Isabelle Chaffaud (MEYER/CHAFFAUD) therefore needed a different, broader way of looking. More than in previous years they fell back on experiential expertise. Wilhelm and Chaffaud always try to include as many styles as possible. Chaffaud: ‘We aim at diversity, but that’s not easy. It’s less hard to stick to a pool of comparable approaches.’
The Jury Report describes winner Katarina Van den Wouwer as someone who displays cogency, sensitivity, and generosity: “Going beyond her own virtuosity, Katarina proceeds from dance as performing art towards dance as an act of living.”
‘I’m a little overwhelmed,’ Katarina says. In her acceptance speech she pays tribute to the Indian meditation technique Vipassana, which greatly helped her to arrive where she is now.

Dramatic Arts: Koen Verheijden

“For us it was much the same as for the Dance jury”, says Antoinette Jelgersma (Het Nationale Theater). In the absence of ‘real’ performances, she and her fellow jury member John de Weerd (Zaal 3 / De Parade) had to resort to rehearsals and streaming: “But then quite often it’s hard to fathom, because, after all, it’s a different medium.”

Winner Koen Verheijden attracted attention with his triptych in the making, Nina Bobo, in which he explores his own Dutch East Indies background. It is therefore not surprising that Koen dedicates his prize to the East Indies community, who are ‘not always vocal.’ Koen: “It’s fantastic to stand here. I never thought I would ever in my life give an acceptance speech.” The Jury Report praises the simple theatrical means and plain directional style Koen uses in his work and describes them as extremely effective; “the intelligent alternations and clever directional inventions are remarkable for someone of Koen’s age.”

The Jury Prize is still to follow

Jury president Winnie Sorgdrager stresses the importance of the Piket Art Prizes, ‘the financial support, the recognition of who you are and what you do.” And in addition, there’s the Jury Prize for someone who is of importance for the Hague art world, but operates in the background. Last year it was decided not to award the Jury Prize, because there was no opportunity to, literally, bring such a person out of the shadows. “This year we are going to do that”, Sorgdrager announces, “but I’m not allowed to speak about it yet.”

After the ceremony there is time to enjoy drinks and snacks under the fine wooden vault of the Lourdeskerk. And then the winners, well-deserved plume and all, go out again into the cold Scheveningen evening.