DREAMS TRIUMPH

Introducing the winner of Muse’s Dream Commission 2021

Sondra Perry

Following an extremely challenging year for the world, commissioning an artist and fostering creativity could not be more vital. Discover more about Sondra Perry’s winning entry for the Dream Commission, which will see her create a new moving image work, to be exhibited at our partners, the Fondation Beyeler in early 2022 and Serpentine in 2022.

In the excerpt from Perry’s winning entry, above, a woman is shown playing a theremin in her apartment, the camera focused on the dancing movement of her hovering fingers. It’s fitting that this “touchless” electronic instrument, beloved of eerie sci-fi film scores, would provide the perfect metaphor for the surreal quandary of bodily contact in our current world. This interior scene then cuts to natural vistas, a forest and ocean, overlaid with archival footage of people engaged in everyday rituals, each clip eventually dissolving into the next through glitches.

Sondra Perry, Lineage for a Phantom Zone, 2020, Courtesy the artist and Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme

Sondra Perry, Lineage for a Phantom Zone, 2020, Courtesy the artist and Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme

Entitled Lineage for a Phantom Zone, this absorbing work is the creation of American artist Sondra Perry, whose interdisciplinary practice combines performance and digital tools to explore the entangled lines between race, identity and technology. With Lineage, Perry has been selected as the winner of the inaugural Dream Commission, a biannual commission from Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme, which supports emerging and mid-career artists working in the medium of moving-image art.

 

Perry’s was named winner of the Dream Commission out of a formidable shortlist of artists which included Beatriz Santiago Muñoz (Puerto Rico), Martine Syms (USA) and Zhou Tao (China). These four were selected after a meticulous process by a jury of leading art world figures: artistic director of Serpentine Galleries Hans Ulrich Obrist; chief curator at Fondation Beyeler Theodora Vischer; former director of the Parrish Art Museum Terrie Sultan; director of the Australian Centre for the Moving Images Katrina Sedgwick and British installation artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien.

A moving image work inspired by Dreams

Each of the shortlisted artists were tasked with creating a short-form moving-image work responding to the concept of “dreams” for the judges’ consideration. For Perry, this was a chance to look inward in order to reflect on our current reality. Taking the psychoanalytic association of dreams and their role as gateways to the subconscious as its point of departure, Lineage creates a “dream space” which reimagines the stories of her family passed down across several generations, reconfiguring these memories through images and video. However, like in many of Perry’s works, the personal becomes a way to open up larger questions about the contemporary experience, in this case, how we can attain intimacy in an era of social distancing.

Sondra Perry, Lineage for a Phantom Zone, 2020, Courtesy the artist and Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme

Sondra Perry, Lineage for a Phantom Zone, 2020, Courtesy the artist and Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme

The solitude of the theremin player jars with the footage of communal activities -- dancing, going to church, doing hair -- yet the presence of the glitch, which dissolves images into one another, bridges the sociality of the past with the isolation of the present. Lineage is thus not only a work about connection through history, but also about finding intimacy at a time of restricted proximity. As the electronic voice in the video intonates: “When we walk towards someone, it feels like we are walking under water, but we can reach them if we stretch our arms”. The poetic way the work captured universal feelings of longing won over the judges, leading to their unanimous decision to award Perry the commission.

 

Sondra Perry, Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY , 2017 Backhoe workstation, Installation view 2017: Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY, Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Gallery at the Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, WA Photo: Natali Wiseman Courtesy of the artist

Sondra Perry, Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY , 2017 Backhoe workstation, Installation view 2017: Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY, Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Gallery at the Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, WA Photo: Natali Wiseman Courtesy of the artist

Taking the psychoanalytic association of dreams and their role as gateways to the subconscious as its point of departure

collage of Sondra Perry's artwork

Clockwise from bottom left: Sondra Perry, IT’S IN THE GAME, 2018 Rosco Chroma Key blue, projected video, spalding universal shot trainers, SD video on 4:3 monitors, privacy screens

Sondra Perry, Lineage for a Multiple Monitor Workstation Number One (still), 2015 Courtesy of the artist.

Sondra Perry, you out here look n like you don't belong to nobody: heavy metal and reflective (detail), 2019. Mixed media. Commissioned by The Shed. Courtesy the artist, The Shed, NYC, and Bridget Donahue, NYC

Sondra Perry, A Terrible Thing, 2019, Two-channel HD color video with sound, 10:03 minutes. Installation view: Sondra Perry, A Terrible Thing, moCa Cleveland, 2019. Photo: Field Studio. Courtesy the artist and Bridget Donahue, NYC.

Sondra Perry, Lineage for a Phantom Zone, 2020, Courtesy the artist and Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme

Exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler and Serpentine

As the winner of the Dream Commission, Perry will now focus on creating a long-form work which will go on show at Fondation Beyeler in early 2022, before going on to be exhibited at Serpentine, London. Building on the themes of history, consciousness and memory explored in Lineage, Perry has envisioned an installation which will expand on the concept of the dream space by using LED panels to construct an immersive environment that simulates the experience of floating.

Sondra Perry, flesh, graft, and ash #1, 2020, Three C-Trans prints mounted on plexiglass lightboxes Each of three lightboxes: 30 × 30 × 4 in. (76.20 × 76.20 × 10.16 cm). Courtesy the artist and Bridget Donahue, NYC. Photographer: Gregory Carideo.

Sondra Perry, flesh, graft, and ash #1, 2020, Three C-Trans prints mounted on plexiglass lightboxes Each of three lightboxes: 30 × 30 × 4 in. (76.20 × 76.20 × 10.16 cm). Courtesy the artist and Bridget Donahue, NYC. Photographer: Gregory Carideo.

Sign up now

An orange and black flowing pattern used as a background

CONTINUE YOUR JOURNEY

Delve further into stories of Inspiring Greatness.

Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme proudly presents Art of Perfection: Data Painting, an original work from acclaimed media artist Refik Anadol.

Art of Perfection

Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme proudly presents Art of Perfection: Data Painting, an original work from acclaimed media artist Refik Anadol.

From algorithmic beauty to multisensory installations, prepare to be immersed and transported into a land of dreams.

2021: Looking Ahead to a Year of Moving Image Art

From algorithmic beauty to multisensory installations, prepare to be immersed and transported into a land of dreams.

Like many fairy tales, the world of immersive art lies beyond the imagination. By placing the viewer centre stage, with senses ignited, this far-away land comes to life.

Art in 360

Like many fairy tales, the world of immersive art lies beyond the imagination. By placing the viewer centre stage, with senses ignited, this far-away land comes to life.