Alexis Blake wins 2021 Prix de Rome Visual Arts

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Alexis Blake wins 2021 Prix de Rome Visual Arts
Alexis Blake, rock to jolt [] stagger to ash, 2021. Performance, exhibition room with architectural intervention, dimmed lights, smell, tabloid publication. Prix de Rome 2021. Photo: Daniel Nicolas.

AMSTERDAM.- Artist Alexis Blake (1981, Pittsburgh, US) received the Prix de Rome Visual Arts 2021, the oldest award in the Netherlands for artists under the age of 40. Blake received this award for her new performance rock to jolt [ ] stagger to ash. The award comes with a 40,000 EUR cash prize and the possibility to participate in a residency programme.

“For the Prix de Rome, Blake immersed herself in lamentation as an expression of mourning, a topical subject, for the pandemic has caused people to suffer great losses. The artist studied the lament from a feminist perspective as a means of protest. This took her all the way back to antiquity, when the lament was forbidden as a form of art. Silencing is a form of repression—of the voice, but also of the emotions. Blake studied various periods in history, for forms and customs leading to physical expression—because that is what a lament does; it brings out, without censorship, what is inside. How people do this is determined by gender, race, socio-economic situation, sexuality and other influences Blake is able to harmoniously bring together in classic dramaturgy, exceptionally staged”, according to the international jury.

The performance shows how effectively Blake commands the principles of conveying of emotion. Moreover, she is able to fully exploit the resonant space of the staircase, and thus takes her place in a tradition of artists who have made this monumental staircase their own.

Alexis Blake (1981, Pittsburgh, US) lives and works in Amsterdam. In 2007, she received a master’s degree in Fine Arts from Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam. Blake was an artist in residence at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2014-’15), Delfina Foundations, London (2016), and at Wiels – Centre for Contemporary Art, Brussels (2020/2021).

The other nominees for this year’s Prix de Rome were Mercedes Azpilicueta, Silvia Martes and Coralie Vogelaar. The pandemic, diversity, feminism, the future, technology. The four nominees reflect upon the present time. The jury appreciates the finalists’ empathy in this regard; a sensitivity to the social, political and technological matters at stake. All finalists were judged on the basis of new work realized during a five-month work period. The exhibition with the work of the nominated artists will be on show at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.


The jury Prix de Rome 2021 consists of Ann Demeester (director, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem; extraordinary Professor Art and Culture at Radboud University, Nijmegen), Amira Gad (head of programs, LAS Light Art Space, Berlin), Antonio Jose Guzman (visual artist, researcher, lecturer), Samuel Leuenberger (director, SALTS, Basel) and Viviane Sassen (photographer, winner of the 2007). Chair is Eelco van der Lingen (director Mondriaan Fund).


The new work of Mercedes Azpilicueta, Alexis Blake, Silvia Martes and Coralie Vogelaar can be viewed until March 20, 2022 at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

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