Eight nominees of the Dolf Henkes Prize 2023 form activating exhibition at TENT Rotterdam

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Eight nominees of the Dolf Henkes Prize 2023 form activating exhibition at TENT Rotterdam
Sathu Studio, Samboleap Tol, Lightbox installation (2023).

ROTTERDAM.- Artists Ada M. Patterson, Babette Kleijn, Samboleap Tol, Yoeri Guépin, Bik Van der Pol, Bert Frings, Dirk van Lieshout and Maike Hemmers are the nominees for the tenth edition of the Dolf Henkes Prize. On Friday 8 September, the connected exhibition opened in TENT Rotterdam, giving all the artists space to present their work in the run-up to the award ceremony on November 10, 2023.

For this anniversary edition, all previous winners of the prize nominated an artist of their choice. Because of this selection method, the exhibition introduces an unusual assembly of artists, in which vastly different practices smoothly complement each other.

The works in the exhibition consider questions about the relationship between humans and nature, humans and their social environment, and humans and their own person. Completely in their own way, the artists explore themes of intergenerational heritage, transforming bodies, shaping worlds, balance, intrinsic flows and the impact of the Anthropocene.

Where some works call for a moment of silence and a listening ear, others demand interaction. Above all, the nominees want to spark a conversation around the question: what voices, sounds and feelings are there in our world, and how are they subject to change?

Painter Bert Frings, artist duo Bik Van der Pol and visual artist Yoeri Guépin all discuss in their own way the relationship between humans and the world. The artists question our (harmful) place in the world and open the conversation about a collective future.

With a series of subtle still lives, Bert Frings calls attention to the coexistence of people, animals and objects. Frings questions the meaning of trash in the streets and the place of real animals in human society. Bik Van der Pol bring a six-meter-high inflatable ball to TENT and use a projection of Eugene von Guérard's painting Tower Hill (1855) to raise questions about the conditions and consequences in which a world is shaped. Yoeri Guépin presents a workspace at TENT where he dries seeds from his utility garden. The dried materials are linked to his documentary The Smallest Gesture (2023) about the loss of biodiversity and industrial forms of agriculture. The Smallest Gesture will be on view in Guépin's solo exhibition at A Tale of A Tub starting Sept. 16.

Artists Ada M. Patterson, Samboleap Tol and Dirk van Lieshout zoom in a bit more, focusing on the human being in their (social) environment.

Ada M. Patterson shows two works in which she looks at both human and non-human bodies that are in crisis, invisible and labeled as expendable or unbearable. How do they survive in the world as we know it today? Her video installation explores through a Black-, trans-lens the audibility of certain voices in society. What does it mean to refuse silence? Samboleap Tol's trio of works focuses on uncovering psychological legacies carried by different communities in the postcolonial diaspora. From her interactive sound installation Dharma Songs v2 (2023), a self-built instrument with fresh flowers and a century-old Javanese gong, visitors will hear answers of friends and family to the question "If you could ask or tell your ancestors anything more, what would it be?". Dirk van Lieshout brings a performative installation to TENT, which is inspired by Bas Jan Aders' balancing cardboard box Untitled ('Tea-Party') (1972) and Japanese tea culture. With the recurring performance he seeks the (re)experience of time.

Maike Hemmers and Babette Kleijn's exploration of the intrinsic comes closest to humans as a person.

In her work, Maike Hemmers observes the body and mind as one whole, rather than two separate entities. She explores influences and relationships that move through and with the body, depicting them with organic materials, abstract forms, and colours. She keeps notes of different colours that play in her body and uses these "body scans" to create her drawings. Babette Kleijn creates a new, site-specific wall sculpture in TENT. For her work Kleijn finds inspiration in architectural rhythms in post-war reconstruction architecture, geometry, Oscar Schlemmer’s Triadisches Ballett and her intrinsic search for balance. Exploring, arranging and merging all these aspects offer edginess.

Tenth anniversary of Dolf Henkes Prize

The Rotterdam art prize is being awarded for the tenth time this year. A distinctive feature of this anniversary edition is the selection procedure: Stichting Henkes invited all previous winners to choose an artist to nominate for this year's award. This means that instead of the usual four contenders, eight artists will present their work at TENT Rotterdam in the run-up to the award on November 10th this year.

The prize is an initiative of Stichting Henkes and is made possible by a contribution from the Henkes Fund in the custody of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. The jury consists of writer/curator Hanne Hagenaars, writer/curator Yasmijn Jarram and artist Toon Teeken.

Previous winners of the award are (from 2021 to 2003): Geo Wyeth, Evelyn Taocheng Wang, Katarina Zdjelar, Lidwien van de Ven, Gyz La Rivière, Lara Almarcegui, Melvin Moti, Erik van Lieshout and Jeroen Eisinga.

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