Here’s why Rolls-Royce invests in the arts

Themes of lineage, memory, desire, race, identity are the basis of the latest works created under the patronage of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “Lineage for a Phantom Zone” by American artist Sondra Perry uses the concept of dreams as a space for the reconfiguration of history. Her immersive and powerful audiovisual installation recreates an imaginary dream about her grandmother. It is a very personal story told through the prism of the imagination as a way to discuss critical notions surrounding the erasure of black history in the American South. The artist imagined the dreamlike space as a passage to access heritage sites absent from reality.

Perry’s work was created as part of Rolls-Royce’s Muse, the philanthropic program designed to foster the arts and ideas. Chosen by a jury of personalities from the art world during the year, he is also the winner of the first Dream Commission for the art of the moving image.

This is a powerful work of art with disorienting and sensory elements. Expanding on her work, Perry took her family on a pilgrimage to North Carolina to find the land where her grandmother was raised and worked as a sharecropper, before being forced to leave at thirteen due to rock climbing. racism in the region.

Perry described the inspiration as coming from “a dream I wish I had, a dream about my grandmother and the land she grew up on,” the artist says. “I had thought this would have been a perfect story to dream of her growing up, but I never dreamed of her growing up. In fact, whenever I dreamed of my grandmother, she was never there. It was someone else I didn’t know. So I wanted to place it in the space of the imagination. And that’s how it started.

Very intrigued, I caught up with Jessica Persson-Conway, head of Rolls-Royce’s art program, to find out how and why the maker of large luxury cars is involved in arts philanthropy and such provocative and relevant work.

Nargess Banks: The artists shortlisted for the Dream Commission were a strong group. What prompted the jury to choose Sondra Perry as the big winner?

Jessica Persson-Conway: It was a difficult decision, because the level of creativity shown by the shortlisted artists was exceptional. [Yet], the jury made a unanimous decision to select Sondra based on her outstanding artwork proposal, which they felt embodied the core values ​​of the initiative. They were drawn to the brilliant way in which she delves deeply into personal experiences, while presenting them in a universal context. His work is simultaneously moving, stimulating and exciting.

How do you see the commissioned book that accompanies it developing this project?

The artist’s book brings together a series of essays by black writers and designers. It will be available for visitors to the exhibition – with the ambition that it will allow them to engage in the research that informs the artwork. Beyond the exhibition, the book will serve as an important resource for anyone interested in Sondra’s practice and the subject matter explored by her works – providing a platform not only for Sondra but also for other black voices in the world. ‘industry.

Muse and Dream Commission taps into the world of contemporary art in new and exciting ways. And your choice of artists seems to be becoming increasingly relevant – in line with today’s discussions of race, representation and the broader role of art in society. What do you look for when choosing artists?

The main criteria of the Dream Commission are that artists must be emerging and that they must create works in the field of the moving image. They must have the ability to evoke alternate sensory universes and travel into the subconscious. The moving image is an important frontier of innovation in contemporary art. In the same vein, the jury is responsible for selecting artists who push the technical and conceptual boundaries in their practice. Innovation is at the heart of the Dream Commission’s values, which is why the artists we work with often explore some of the most relevant and pressing topics in our society today.

How important is it for a top luxury brand to be involved in the arts?

In my view, this is essential. The arts are a source of inspiration and we have a duty to support future generations of talent in art and design. Muse connects Rolls-Royce patrons and the public to the world of contemporary art and design through the Dream Commission and Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge initiatives, engaging in dialogue with some of the most exciting creative visionaries of our time. Our ambition is for the arts program to inspire people and provide insight into the ways of seeing and thinking of creative individuals.

It has the added benefit of helping these emerging artists develop their careers.

Yes, I also believe there is a philanthropic element to Muse, supporting the arts and artists in this critical time. Our two commissioning initiatives provide opportunities for artists and designers early in their careers, creating an important platform to showcase their work. Naturally, the relationships forged by Muse are also beneficial to our clients, many of whom are established art collectors with a keen interest in the advancement of contemporary art.

What possibilities do you see with Dream Commissions?

It enables the creation of exciting new works of art, which otherwise might not have come to fruition. The objective is to promote creativity and creation in the field of moving images and to support the careers of artists working in this medium. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for our Rolls-Royce artisans to connect with artists and gain insight into their creative worlds. We have a robust artist selection process via an esteemed panel of top nominators and jurors to make the final selection and we give artists complete creative freedom once they have been selected. Although we closely follow the journey with the artist, the final work he produces belongs to him.

Lineage for a phantom zoneis currently on public display (until March 13, 2022) at Fondation Beyeler, Switzerland, after which it will be on display at the Serpentine Galleries in London, dates to be announced later.

See other inventive car/design/art collaborations: BMW and Jeff Koons and with the Spanish artist Almudena Romero, Ares and the sculptor Hubert Phipps, Lexus and the Royal College of Art and Polestar Global Design Competition.

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