Relentless Putridity


Stedelijk Museum︎- Amsterdam

Intervention with a wooden door containing hatches from the past of Prix de Rome, whitening product smell (certified fragrance), negotiations, pain, laughs, pamphlet, dispenser, brick wall.
With the support of the Shoulder Warmers Committee. The Shoulder Warmers Committee is a circle of allies invited to buttress the maker. Critical artworks often produce pain, arduous negotiations, and stormy interactions. In this case, it is managed with support and strategies of partners in crime through conversations, laughs, mischief and sharing experiences. For this project, the Shoulder Warmers Committee consists of Amsterdam-based curator Amal Alhaag, Amsterdam based artist Ima-Abasi Okon and Paris-based artist Florence Jung

(Archival material)

Ghita Skali criticizes the selection procedure of the art prizes and of the Prix de Rome in particular. Until mid-20th century, participants were required to pass an exam at the Rijksakademie (State Academy of Fine Arts) behind closed doors. The sequestered artists were receiving food and materials through hatches in the door. One such doors features in Skali’s work for the Prix de Rome 2023. To the artist, it symbolises the ostensible appearance of equal opportunities behind art prizes, whereas this system is exclusionary and discriminatory.

Photo: Johannes Schwartz

“In Relentless Putridity Ghita Skali criticizes the exclusionary selection procedure behind art prizes, a system the artist sees as a metaphor for the toxicity of many western societies today. Until some point in the first half of the twentieth century, nominees of the Prix de Rome were confined behind closed doors in order to ensure their anonymity while taking their exam. Through a hatch they were given meals and materials.

One such original door now plays a central role in Skali’s work. She uses the door, the intense scent reminiscent of a whitening product and stamped pamphlets as visual signifiers. By doing this she challenges the illusion of equal opportunities generated by art prizes, exposing their discriminatory and exclusive nature. As Skali explains: “I see these doors with hatches as clear architectural representations of violence within western institutions.”

Through her installation, she raises the question of whether it is even possible to change the system that is inherent to art prizes. Skali asserts that as long as the same rules persist and the same “hatch mentality” remains in force, the art world remains stagnant. “Diversity may exist, but only if it conforms to the right narrative, if it fits through the hatch. And when you think you finally found an open door to the art world, you still hit a wall”.
by Amanda Pinatih

Photo: Maarten Nauw


Pamphlet’s design: Roxanne Maillet
Production research: Dana Claansen
Scent developed by:
International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF)
Scent mechanism: Jorg Hempenius – Iscent
Pamphlet stamper: Nolwenn Vuillier