Netherlands Patron Circle

Alexis Blake, ‘rock to Jolt [ ] stagger to ash’, 2021

Outset Netherlands is incredibly proud to have supported rock to jolt [ ] stagger to ash, a new performance work by Alexis Blake developed on the occasion of her nomination for the Prix de Rome 2021.

rock to jolt [ ] stagger
to ash emphasizes the emancipatory power of voicing deep emotions in an uncensored and uncontrolled way. Alexis Blake explores the outlawing by the ancient Greeks on woman’s lamentation: cathartic wailing and high-pitched exclamations to mourn and process emotional events. Historically, sounds in the higher voice register are often negated by Western patriarchal systems: they are said to bring confusion or sow terror, such as the shriek of the fury or song of the siren. Blake implements the structures of lamenting to rock and jolt the historical museum building of Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam to its core and confronts the systems that restrain voices in order to silence them. Ultimately, she offers space for a contemporary lament in which the body can express itself freely and be heard. In addition to the performance, Blake also organised an exhibition room with the smell of decay. An empty pace, meant to invoke reflection.

On Tuesday, November 30 2021 Alexis Blake was announced as the winner of the Prix de Rome 2021, which comes with a 40,000 Euros cash prize and the possibility to participate in a residency programme of the artist’s choice.

The jury wrote: “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”