Winner Master Research Award 2022

Tue 31 Jan

The WdKA Research Award was established by The Willem de Kooning Academy Research Award was established by the Willem de Kooning Foundation in 2015 to emphasize the central role of art and design research within the newly introduced curriculum. The Research Awards are not prizes for just theses or research documents but for projects merging theory and practice where art or design work is a vital part of the research. The Award is granted to Master graduation projects that combine theoretical and field research with artistic research and which provide new insights to broader audiences of experts and the public at large. Valuing art and design research, the Willem de Kooning Academy will grant one monetary award for a Master graduate of the year 2022

The Research Award ceremony for Master graduates took place on Thursday January 26, 2023 during day two of the Research Festival Making (in) the Unforeseen in Rotterdam.

And the winner is...

Fine Art: Samboleap Tol | A broken heart for a soulful lament (in the key of reckoning and rejoicing)  



My artistic (re)search is largely informed by my experiences as a second generation Cambodian. Our parents and their peers suffer from undiagnosed PTSD as war children, which had a detrimental effect in our homes growing up. Experiencing loss and displacement in my child- and adulthood broke my heart completely, but also set it wide open: I learned to express compassion for others early on, and understood the power of creating space for voices unheard. Today I am especially moved by airing (hi)stories that are painful, complex and decolonial, because I believe reckoning with them will set everyone free.

“Tol excels at unfolding the link between political and spiritual forms of reckoning. In her paintings, writing, and public projects she draws on her own experience — both of Cambodian tradition, and urban life, in Rotterdam, and London — to provide a profound understanding of what it means for cultures to exist „in the wake“ (as political theorist Christina Sharpe puts it) of tremendous violence caused by imperial expansion, and post-colonial displacement.



Tol vividly demonstrates in her art and writing how „keeping the wake“ can be a practice where communal mourning goes hand in hand with vivacious community building, and how young urban cultures may tap into old spiritual knowledge to acknowledge pain and loss, while seeking a future, and dignity in life.” - Jan Verwoert (critic, writer and teacher at the Piet Zwart Institute).During my decade abroad in London, Sydney, Antwerp and Phnom Penh, I’ve been cared for by different diasporic communities who each saw me as their own. These experiences largely inform my imagination and realization of dignified life.



Click here for all the The nominees for the 2022 Master Research Award.

The jury consisted of:

Leana Boven, curator Casco Art Institute (jury member)

Zineb Seghrouchni, founder DAR cultural agency' (jury member)

Mieke Bernink, lector / head of research Netherlands Film Academy (jury member)

Merve Bedir, architect/researcher BAK / Basis voor Actuele Kunst (chair)

Photography by Cristibal Pereira