Artist Rana Hamadeh Is Mondriaan Fellow

January 9, 2018
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Rana Hamadeh, an artist based in Rotterdam, has won the Prix de Rome Visual Arts 2017, the oldest and most generous award in the Netherlands for visual artists under the age of forty. Hamadeh received the award for a new act as part of her opera project The Ten Murders of Josephine. The Prix de Rome comes with a €40,000 award and a work period at the American Academy in Rome.

The Prix de Rome dates to 1808, when Louis Napoleon introduced the Prix de Rome in the Netherlands to promote the arts. Although the award has regularly been renewed, the aim is still to trace talented visual artists and encourage them to develop and increase their visibility. Since 2012, the Mondriaan Fund has been responsible for the award.

The jury unanimously selected Hamadeh, an artist who creates her own language, dissects and rearranges history, and gives it a voice. The theme that lies at the basis of this work is urgent: the need to become aware of the missing voice in testimonies and the ways in which the elimination of voices determines the view of our past. In an overwhelming, cacophonous installation, Hamadeh swept the audience into a penetrating epic full of intense experiences.

Born in Beirut in 1983, Hamadeh has lived and worked in Rotterdam since 2006. She received her MFA from the Dutch Art Institute/ArtEZ in Enschede. Her recent exhibitions include solos at the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane, the Showroom in London, and Western Front in Vancouver. Whereas she previously operated as a scientist, historian, or activist who reported on her research in lectures and performances, she adamantly chooses the position of visual artist in her new opera project. And by targeting her audience in this way, Hamadeh creates a poignant presentation in which the visitor is overwhelmed by sound, technology, and text in a theatrical setting that is in keeping with the subjects she addresses. The first part of the opera, which can be regarded as a living, constantly changing sound play, was on show at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam until December 31, 2017. The work she made for the Prix de Rome is an act from the opera, which was performed as a whole on December 14–15, 2017, at Schouwburg Rotterdam.

The other nominees for this year’s Prix de Rome were Melanie Bonajo, Saskia Noor van Imhoff, and Katarina Zdjelar. The four finalists were judged on the basis of new work realized during a five-month work period. The final presentations by all four artists can be viewed at Kunsthal in Rotterdam until February 25, 2018. The accompanying publication includes essays by Maria Barnas, Julia Mullié, and Laurens Otto.