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26 mei 2021 | Nieuws

Suzanne Swarts retires from jury Piket Art Prizes

Suzanne Swarts, director of the Voorlinden Museum in Wassenaar, the Netherlands, joined the Piket Art Prizes jury in 2017, succeeding Edwin Buijsen. She retires from the jury this year: “Piket so often means a festive mood.”

Suzanne looks back on her jury membership with great pleasure. “It offers a wonderful opportunity to really get into what happens in The Hague in the field of art,” she says. “Especially when you have something concrete to offer such as nominations and a prize.” She definitely feels the experience has enriched her. “What I liked best was meeting people. Not only our young artists, but also my fellow jury members. The view of other disciplines, looking with another’s eyes. And Piket so often means a festive mood.”

From two sides

As a jury member Suzanne collaborated with Maarten Demmink (a.k.a. Demiak), who retired from the jury in 2020, to be succeeded by Joncquil de Vries. Maarten and Joncquil are both visual artists. “Good matches, both of them,” Suzanne says. “Yes, I really think we were evenly matched in a pleasant way.” She also feels the combination of an artist and someone from the museum world works well. “It means you are able to look at things from two sides. Apart from the fellow artist’s view of the creative process, there is the museum person’s attention to the result. Does it have potential? Is it viable?”

The Covid-19 measures had some impact on the exploration of the field, because several exhibitions were cancelled or quite drastically postponed. “But despite all this we managed to visit and talk to everyone we wanted to see,” Suzanne says. She believes the evaporation of most of the theatre season must have made matters much harder for the Dance and Dramatic Arts categories’ jury members. “It was different for us of the Painting category. Visual artists just go on creating, no matter what,” she says. “Because of this, for me Corona did not feel like a rupture in the selection process.”

‘What is it your work should bring about?’

When visiting potential nominees’ studios, one question was always crucial for Suzanne: ‘What is it your work should bring about?’
“As an artist you can get totally involved in making something without knowing exactly why you’re doing what you’re doing,” Suzanne explains, “but when it’s finished, it has to go out into the world. Why do you use visual means? What do you want to achieve? What do you want to bring about within the viewer? What are the questions you ask yourself? In my view, this self-awareness is an important criterion.” However, she does find that young artists increasingly realise that they need answers and should be visible. “More than in the old days being an artist also means being an entrepreneur. And young artists know they have to go on the road. They are smarter and more vocal in this respect, they know the platforms, know quite well how to find their way.”


Suzanne points out that, more than performing artists, visual artists are dependent on themselves. They lack the context offered by a company; there is no daily training; there are no rehearsals where they have to show up. “You need more self-discipline to keep going,” she says. And she is convinced that taking good care your network is part of that self-discipline. “Keep relationships alive, let people know what you’re doing, maintain contacts. That would be my message for young artists. You can attract attention if you stand out in this respect.” Looking back on her jury membership, she concludes: “There is a lot of talent, but the real promise lies in the combination of talent, perseverance, and discipline.”

Text: Anna Beerens
Photo: Hessel Waalewijn