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Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme, today reveals the four moving-image artists, shortlisted for its inaugural flagship initiative, the Dream Commission. The Dream Commission is a biennial prize, awarded to inspire greatness and foster creativity in the media of moving-image.


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  • Artists Sondra Perry, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Martine Syms and Zhou Tao are shortlisted for Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme’s flagship Dream Commission
  • Each artist has created a moving-image concept artwork, investigating the narrative of ‘Dreams’
  • Dream Commission supports moving-image art by emerging and mid-career artists
  • Final recipient of Dream Commission to be announced in Spring 2021

“Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme, fosters creativity through collaborations with artists who share our passion for pushing technical and conceptual boundaries. We are delighted to announce four shortlisted moving-image artists for the inaugural Dream Commission, each of whom have outstanding reputations. The art of moving-image is a creative and avant-garde genre and we are pleased to be supporting this medium at this critical time for the industry. To commission artists during a pandemic is an act of determination and faith in the power of culture to inform and transform our lives; a quality at Rolls-Royce that we fully endorse.”
Torsten Müller -Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme, today reveals the four moving-image artists, shortlisted for its inaugural flagship initiative, the Dream Commission. The Dream Commission is a biennial prize, awarded to inspire greatness and foster creativity in the media of moving-image. Artists Sondra Perry (USA), Beatriz Santiago Muñoz (Puerto Rico), Martine Syms (USA) and Zhou Tao (China) were selected by an international Jury of leading art world individuals, having been nominated by a panel of industry figureheads, over the course of 2020.

Each artist has created a short-form moving-image artwork, exploring the notion of ‘Dreams’. These works will act as a proof of concept for consideration by the Jury, leading to one artist being awarded the commission of creating a new moving image artwork in 2021.

New Jersey-based interdisciplinary artist Sondra Perry works across the media of AI, animation, performance, and video, amongst others. At the forefront of Perry’s work lies an exploration of the themes of race, identity and technology. Perry’s short-form artwork, Lineage for a Phantom Zone, is as a meditation on lineage, longing, and memory using footage of her own and from online archives. The artist commented; “the piece begins with me playing a theremin, using the touchless liminal instrument to conjure a dream space with multi-dimensional sound. Growing up, my grandmother had a picture of herself on the land she was raised on in North Carolina on her dresser. I think about that picture often and I wanted to reflect on her history, that land, and my experience of it through images. I collapse time, space, and two generations of family to visualize a life dream that was mutated through imagination, images, and video and passed down through my DNA”.

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz is an artist and film maker based in Puerto Rico. Her approach to filmmaking resembles the careful approach of an ethnographer; her films arising from long periods of research, observation and documentation. For Santiago Munoz’s short-form artwork The Source, she weaves together heterogenous snapshots of people, places and experiences, evoking a sensorial response in the viewer. Taking place against the backdrop of Puerto Rico, the artist brings the rich history and culture of the country to light. She commented, “It begins with an experience. My son is standing at the source of the Río Caguitas. Something seems to stop. Is it the ancient rock, the loud cold water pushing, the slowness above us, the smell? An interval. Reading his translation of Proust to Haitian Kreyòl, a project undertaken for its own sake and without readers in mind, my colleague writer and translator Guy Regis Junior had said the task had been both full of pleasure and sacrificial. From there, there is an opening-up in the interval, in that time/space between one language, history and sensorial world, and another”.

LA-based artist Martine Syms has earned wide recognition for a practice that combines conceptual grit, humour and social commentary. For her short-form moving image artwork, Kita’s World, Martine introduces viewers into her personal mythology; equal parts biological, psychological and sociological. The artist commented, “My world is a strange combination of core material, broken samples, seductive loops, and heavy theory. Kita’s World considers the problem of the psychosomatic slip in the digital era. Symptomatic of the contemporary condition, I was inspired by an anecdote by a prominent theorist in which intimate technology appears to read our minds. Everything has a subtext, ulterior motives—but tech flattens everything out. It can speak our unconscious; we unravel equally in realms both real and digital. There is a dissolution of difference but no real plurality. I’m using Kita, an homage to an avatar from my childhood, to think through this tension”.

Guangzhou-based artist Zhou Tao works primarily in video, drawing and photography. His moving-image artworks invite us to experience the multiple trajectories of reality. For his short-form moving image artwork Three Hundred Miles Southwest, Tao moves the gaze of his lens from densely populated areas to a remote and almost mythological setting. The artist commented, “Three hundred miles from the dangerous peak to the southeast, those forgotten areas not covered by the high-speed network are at the end of the geography. Between a wolf seeker with mountains as a companion and the 37th ‘remote style’ ecological model; between the giant reliefs in the narrow valley and the legendary gate into the four-dimensional; the engineering bases connected from one terminal to another scattered among the mountains, presenting a future fable that has long passed away of this mythological place”.

In June 2020, the Jury unanimously agreed upon the four shortlisted artists, selected from a long-list of twenty-three nominations. The Jury comprises: Isaac Julien CBE RA, a leading moving-image artist; Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries in London; Katrina Sedgwick, Museum Director of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne; Terrie Sultan, former Museum Director of the Parrish Art Museum in New York; and Theodora Vischer, Senior Curator at Fondation Beyeler in Basel.

Jury statement: “The Dream Commission offers an opportunity for artists to have a space to develop their aesthetics and to be able to delve deeply into an area where they can have an autonomy to make a work which can resonate. The quality of the long list that was presented to us made this an incredibly engaging, but also difficult selection process. The breadth of practice that was selected for us to consider was extraordinary - the sophistication of ideas and expression across this media was so inspiring. We have succeeded in selecting a variety of artists from different countries, cultures and different kinds of artistic thinking.”

After five years of supporting international artists in creating new works, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme announced a new vision in 2019 to become Muse¸ a platform with two biennial initiatives, the Dream Commission and the Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge. Rolls-Royce’s ambition for the Dream Commission, founded in partnership with the Serpentine Galleries, London and the Fondation Beyeler, Basel, is to establish the marque as a relevant platform for advancing the medium of moving image today. Celebrating the latest innovations in the field of moving image art, Dream Commission works can be from any medium within that category including experimental film, video, animation, immersive and participatory installations, and content presented in non-screen formats, such as augmented and virtual reality.

As the two-year process concludes, the cycle will begin again, yielding a group of landmark works of moving-image art.

Rolls-Royce has launched a new Muse Instagram channel, dedicated to sharing exclusive content relating to Muse and the Dream Commission. To stay up-to-date follow @rollsroycemuse. Discover Dream Commission content here.

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