Press Release n°4
Award Winners 2009
The Prince Pierre Foundation award winners 2009 have just been announced:
· Literary Award Winner:
Pierre Mertens – New edition Les chutes centrales, Le Grand Miroir, April 2007
· Bourse de la Découverte:
David Thomas – La patience des buffles sous la pluie, Bernard Pascuito,
· The pick of the students
Alma Brami, Sans elle, Mercure de France
· Musical Composition Award:
Speakings, for orchestra and electronics - London, 19.08.2008
· International Contemporary Art Award Winner
Su-Mei Tse for her work entitled Some Airing, 2008.
New edition of Les chutes centrales, Le Grand Miroir, April 2007
Born in 1939 in Brussels, Pierre Mertens began writing short plays from the age of 11. The Algerian issue awakened his “political conscience” and he began studying international law at the University of Brussels where he would later head the Literature Sociology Centre. In 1989, he joined the Royal Academy of the French language and literature in Belgium. He has been a literary critic for the Belgian daily newspaper Le Soir since 1971.
Influenced by Franz Kafka, he began to publish novels and short stories. Most of his heroes are distinguished by a secret wound, like the child in L’Inde ou l’Amérique (1969), the protagonists in Niveau de la mer (1970) and the family trio in La Fête des anciens (1971), Nécrologies (1977) and Ombres au tableau (1982). Against a historical background, his characters rebuild their lives after a break, a tragedy.
Focusing less on private lives, Les bons offices (1974) and Terre d’asile (1978) plunge the characters into the turmoil of the contemporary world. Belgian history takes on a new meaning when looked at from the eye of a foreigner.
Strongly influenced by music, omnipresent in his works, he wrote an opera libretto, La passion de Gilles (1982), which would be put to music by Philippe Boesmans.
In 1984, Pierre Mertens changed both his style and subject with Perdre, a special novel dealing with insane love. In the same year, he took up novel writing again with Terreurs which alluded to the change of political regime in Greece.
With Les Éblouissements (1987 - Prix Médicis), the writer reinvents the miserable and glorious existence of Gottfied Benn, an ambiguous intellectual from the XXth century who gradually rallied the ranks of the Third Reich.
In 1995, Une paix royale triggered a scandal by challenging the reigning family through a narrative combining fiction and reality.
In 1999, in Tout est feu, he sent his readers a message of lucidity, vigilance and hope: “A work of art is not there to console, or to compensate or balance evil. It is a small and modest weapon to push back the brute; at the expense of a certain magic, at the expense of a type of shamanism. And I believe in this sort of spell. »
In 2001 Pierre Mertens published Perasma, a novel on love and music: “This swan song on love which bursts forth, burns and passes is like the final jolt of a passionate love from paradise lost." (Marie Alstadt, Lire, May 2001)
In 2007, the Grand Miroir republished Les chutes centrales (Verdier, 1990), a collection of short stories in which “It is a question of encounters, collisions, reunions and various losses. They say that this is the chronicle of a destiny or an instant. But something is still lacking. It is by referring to this lack that life suddenly springs back into motion through words. Or at least its movement, its mystery.” (Presentation by the publisher)
Pierre Mertens has just published two books: Le don d’avoir été vivant (Ecritures, September 2009) and Paysage avec la chute d’Icare (Seuil, September 2009).
Bourse de la Découverte
La patience des buffles sous la pluie, B. Pascuito
David Thomas is forty-three and lives in Paris. After a career as a journalist for fifteen years, he is presently a playwright and scriptwriter. He is the author of Tais-toi et Parle-moi, performed at the Manufacture des Abbesses. He worked with Agathe Teyssier on the dialogues of his first feature film, Le Femme Invisible featuring Julie Depardieu and Charlotte Rampling, released in February 2009.
La patience des buffles sous la pluie was prefaced by Jean-Paul Dubois, who was filled with enthusiasm by David Thomas’s sense of observation and melancholic humour in which he recognised himself.
“A succession of men’s and women’s voices of all ages. Summaries of everyday or dramatic life, these 73 texts are small sketches of more or less ordinary people struggling with their doubts, their convictions, their flaws, their strengths and their pettiness. In each of these polaroids, the characters express themselves with their own language. Some with familiarity, others with reserve, or even naivety, dishonesty or elegance. This is sometimes funny, and at other times less so. It is often a question of love, disenchantment, boredom or joy with married life, but also those trivial moments of life that reveal just as much as the major events. Pleasure mingles with pain, truth changes appearances, we fool ourselves or open up shamelessly as we would with a stranger whose judgement we do not care about. We tell lies to soften the truth, we scream out the truth, we lose our temper – in short we simply try to stay alive. And all this both with laughter and bitterness.” (Presentation by the publisher)
You have never been able to name it and yet, you have become used to its presence. It is because of it that you suffer from insomnia and have ended up accepting the difficulty of sleeping peacefully in the same way as one manages to live with the failings of the woman one loves. If your morale is low, you no longer try to find out why, you know that you will get over it. Without having to fight, you feel that sooner or later, your energy and courage will manage to get the upper hand.
You are solid. They say that you are strong, you are able to take an exceptional amount of beating. You wear a smile. You never complain. You keep your weaknesses to yourself. Yes – you’re doing fine. Always fine. You know that only those who put up a battle reach fulfilment, that happiness is built up slowly and that you are convinced you are building it. You’re on the right track.
You have faith in yourself, you have no doubts about your plans. It is a question of time. You know better than anyone else the meaning of patience. You do not fear your pain because you are not aware of its power.”
The pick of the students
Sans elle, Mercure de France
“Léa is ten years old. Suddenly confronted with the world of adults, she can only use her words to defend herself. She is like Alice in Wonderland, projected into a shady and unknown world. However thanks to her innocence and willpower, she manages to find the path towards the light.
At twenty-three, Alma Brami offers the reader this first novel - a miracle of equilibrium and precision. By taking the voice of a child, she raises the most serious questions with the simplest words. And we don’t know, as we read on, if she is an adult that knows how to tread the steps of a child, or a child that has the lucidity of an adult…” (Presentation by the publisher)
“When Solène died, Mum stopped doing my hair in the morning; she no longer had the time or the inclination. Solène is dead. As for me, I’ve grown up all of a sudden. I have become a grown up with a heart full of things that I could have done without. I have learnt how to do my hair myself, to go to school by myself, to cry by myself and to comfort myself.
At the beginning, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to manage it, I thought that I wouldn't be able to live anymore because I tried to do my plait but I couldn't. I couldn’t do it and I thought that if I couldn’t even do that, although I’d seen Mum do it millions of times, then I wouldn’t be able to do anything without her.”
“The strength of the novel resides in the childlike tone evoking the inexpressible and helplessness faced with bereavement. Léa asks questions for which adults have no answer. Stubborn, she searches and evades nothing. Written in this way, this first novel cleverly avoids the pitfalls of pathos.” (Françoise Dargent, Le Figaro Littéraire, 4 September 2008)
Musical Composition Award
Speakings, for orchestra and electronics - London, 19.08.2008
Jonathan HARVEY (Warwickshire, 1939)
Born in 1939 in Sutton Coldfield in Warwickshire, England, Jonathan Harvey was a choir member at St Michael’s College in Tenbury. Choir singing left him with the mark of the polyphonic music of the Renaissance. He studied the cello, an instrument highly present in his creations. His works cover all genres, music for a capella choir, full orchestra, ensemble and solo instrument. He is considered one of the most imaginative composers of electroacoustic music.
Harvey continued his education at St John’s College at Cambridge University. On the advice of Britten, he also studied with Erwin Stein and Hans Keller, both students of Schoenberg and became familiarised at a very early stage with dodecaphony.
In 1969 he met Milton Babbitt at the University of Princeton, who introduced him to the possibilities of computerised music and greatly influenced his work. New technology, although still in its infancy at the time, opened an avant-garde compositional dimension: the exploration of sound. In this field, another decisive meeting with Stockhausen guided him in his learning of studio techniques. They shared the same ideas on the fact that electronic technology enabled the physical limits of traditional sound sources to be transcended. Both composers sought to bring closer the rational and the mystical, science and intuition. In 1975, Harvey published a book of Stockhausen’s oeuvre.
An invitation from Pierre Boulez to work at IRCAM in the early 80s resulted in the creation of various works where his own personal style asserted itself: Mortuos Plango, Vivis Voco, one of the major electronic music compositions (1980), Bhakti (1982) for chamber and quadrophonic band. His electronic practice had already established itself and the Inner Light cycle is the result of five years of this experience (1973-1977). At IRCAM he came across spectral current which he considered a determining factor for the evolution of contemporary music. Furthermore, electronic sound appeared to him an opening to transcendental and spiritual dimensions that he wished to be inherent in his works.
Jonathan Harvey attracts commissions from across the globe, he is one of the most frequently programmed composers of today, played by the Ensemble Modern, the Ensemble Intercontemporain, Asko, Nieuw Ensemble (Amsterdam) and Ictus Ensemble (Brussels) to mention but a few.
Jonathan Harvey is a Doctor Honoris Cause of the Universities of Southampton and Bristol, a member of the European Academy, an honorary Professor of music at the University of Sussex where he taught for 18 years, a professor emeritus at Stanford University in California where he taught from 1995 to 2000. He is a composer in association with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
In 1993 he was awarded the prestigious Britten award for composition and in 2007 the Giga-Hertz Grand Prize for a lifetime's work in electronic music. He published two books in 1999 on inspiration and spirituality. In this quest for spiritual syncretism, the composer worked together with the writer Jean-Claude Carrière to produce his opera Wagner Dream on the life of the young Buddha, performed in June 2007.
Radio France, IRCAM and the BBC co-commissioned a creation for orchestra by J. Harvey, Speakings performed on 19th August 2008 by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov at the London Proms. The theme: How to strive towards speech or song by purely instrumental means? Jonathan Harvey, in turn, met this challenge using computers and orchestration to approach his vocal target. In 2009, he wrote a new work of 90 minutes for the Berliner Philharmoniker, Rundfunkchor and Simon Rattle.
Source: IRCAM, Faber music website
For orchestra and electronics
Editions Faber Music
5 June 2008, Festival Agora, Cité de la Musique, Paris.
By the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France, conductor Pascal Rophé. IRCAM electronic music producers: Gilbert Nouno and Arshia Cont.
It is the third in my trilogy referring to the Buddhist purification of body, mind and speech, which the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra commissioned.
Speakings is also commissioned by IRCAM/Radio France and involves electronics which I realised with the help of Gilbert Nouno, Arshia Cont and also Grégoire Carpentier. The work is gratefully dedicated to Ilan Volkov, the BBCSSO and Frank Madlener.
Speech and music are very close and yet also distant. In Speakings I wanted to bring together orchestral music and human speech. It is as if the orchestra is learning to speak, like a baby with its mother, or like first man, or like listening to a highly expressive language we don't understand. The rhythms and emotional tones of speech are formed by semantics, but even more they are formed by feelings - in that respect they approach song. In Buddhist mythology from India there is a notion of original, pure speech, in the form of mantras - half song, half speech. The OM-AH-HUM is said to be the womb of all speech.
The orchestral discourse, itself inflected by speech structures, is electro-acoustically shaped by the envelopes of speech taken from largely random recordings.
The vowel and consonant spectra-shapes flicker in the rapid rhythms and colours of speech across the orchestral textures. A process of 'shape vocoding', taking advantage of speech's fascinating complexities, is the main idea of this work.
The first movement is like an incarnation, the descent into human life.
The second is concerned with the frenetic chatter of human life in all it's expressions of domination, assertion, fear, love, etc. It expands the work Sprechgesang composed just before. It finally moves, exhausted, to mantra and a celebration of ritual language. The mantra is orchestrated and treated by shape vocoding.
The third movement is shorter, like the first. Here speech has a calmer purpose; it is married to a music of unity, a hymn which is close to Gregorian chant. There is often a single monodic line reverberated in a large acoustic space.
There is little division of line against line, or music against listener, as the reverberation eliminates the sense of separation between listener and musical object. The paradise of the sounding temple is imagined.
The movements are played without a break.
XLIII International Contemporary Art Award
"Always remember that we are elsewhere" Extract from Raymond Delambre’s text, Su-Mei Tse :the listening eye, p.14 (Su-Mei Tse Catalogue , The Renaissance Society, Chicago, Casino Luxembourg, 2006).
Born in Luxembourg in 1973 (she lives and works in Luxembourg, Paris and Berlin), Su-Mei Tse applies a poetic amalgam of sound and image to her work which takes its form using a range of various media: photography, videos, installations, objects. She uses constantly shifting, constantly re-examined points of view to bring harmony to apparent antagonistic organic, material and cultural elements.
Before making a name for herself in the world of art, Su-Mei Tse (daughter of professional musicians) completed her studies in music and won her first cello award in 1991 – 1st prize for the cello, 1st prize for chamber music, at the Luxembourg Conservatory of Music. However, she chose to direct her field of expression towards the visual arts, which in her opinion, is a more extensive and more open field than experimentation. It is no surprise however, in view of her career, that many of her works sometimes refer to the world of music, and sometimes to her bi-cultural origins (China and England) and the many impressions that so result. Although in some of her works the artist displays – not without pain but nonetheless with humour - the contrast that exists between the rigour of musical apprenticeship and free and spontaneous expression, other works question the mark left by the cultural environment on our perception. Extract from Magali Parmentier’s text, (Frac Lorraine, exhibition A l’horizon de shangri-la, July-September 2007)
Su-Mei Tse creates art focused on counterpoint, divergence, diversion and movement. The video screening Les balayeurs du désert (The desert sweepers) (2003) aspires to hold back time: Parisian road sweepers in uniform sweep up sand in vain, the piles of which, worthy of Sisyphus, hardly increase in size: during their breaks, they regain their breath… the video, The Yellow Mountain (2004) illustrates temporal recursion. The “sun” rises in two directions, the solar disk finally changing its mind and disappearing completely on the horizon. Together with the mirrored aspect, this undertaking is shown to be recursive - the videos often frequented by the video-maker or the autism proclaimed by Le tondeur du dimanche (2000) and Le Musicien Autiste (1999-2003) are proof of this. Extract from Raymond Delambre’s text, Su-Mei Tse : the listening eye p.12 (Catalogue Su-Mei Tse, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, Casino Luxembourg, 2006)[…]
“Su-Mei Tse’s main concern is to look for universal languages, languages that group together rather than separate, two, perhaps three cultures, and by so doing becomes the expression of Luxembourg. Su-Mei Tse’s universe revolves around sound, image and the body. It is work based on rhythm, organic rhythm that she does not manufacture but which she uses like a choreographer.
Indeed, she uses music, photography, cinema and dance. […]
At the leading edge of technology, her work however maintains its traditional aspect. Her subjects are human and poetic, accessible and understandable to all. The fact that she has used her double training – music and art – to achieve a “complete" oeuvre makes her an exceptional artist. Her physical fragility is only a façade. Thoughtful and extremely logical, she quickly finds the means to express what she wants. Su-Mei Tse does not create on impulse, but in a specific state of mind", explains Marie-Claude Beaud.
Many works are the result of intimate dialogue and cooperation with her partner Jean-Lou Majerus.
2009 : Art Tower Mito, Mito, Japan (07.02-10.05)
2008: Some Magical Clangs, Su-Mei Tse + Virginie Yassef, CRAC Alsace, Altkirch, France
Bird Cage, Su-Mei Tse & Jean-Lou Majerus, public commission, Kirchberg, Luxembourg
East Wind, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Seattle, USA
1000 words for snow, Beaumontpublic, Luxembourg
2007: Duologue, Lee Mingwei & Su-Mei Tse, Solo Exhibitions, MOCA Taipei, Taiwan
Media Test Wall : Su-Mei Tse, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA, USA
Su-Mei Tse, AD Gallery, Athens, Greece
2006 : Su-Mei Tse, Tim Van Laere Gallery, Anvers, Belgium
Proposition de détour, Peter Blum Gallery Chelsea, New York, USA
PS1, New York, USA
su-mei tse … …, Casino, Forum of Contemporary Art, Luxembourg
2005 : The ICH-Manifestation, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, USA
Su-Mei Tse SOLO, Museet for Samtidskunst, Roskilde, Denmark
2004 : Recent Works, Peter Blum Gallery, New York, USA
Tim Van Laere Gallery, Anvers, Belgium
The First of Moderna Su-Mei Tse, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden
JETZT, AD Gallery, Athens, Greece
2003:Air conditioned, Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte, Biennale di Venezia (Luxembourg Pavilion), Italy
Awards: 2006 : SR-Medienkunstpreis, Saarländischer Rundfunk, Saarbrücken, 2006
2005: Edward Steichen Award, grant and artist-in-residence in NY for 2006
2003: Golden Lion for the best national participation, Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte, Biennale di Venezia, Venice
2001 Prix d’Art Robert Schuman, interregional award SaarLorLux
Education: 2000: National Higher Diploma in Plastic Art with commendation from the Board of Examiners, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris
1996: BTS in textile and printing, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués, Paris