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CalArts Exp. Animation AD Pia Borg Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

Pia Borg
Pia Borg


North America

CalArts Exp. Animation AD Pia Borg Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

The Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation approved on April 8 the awarding of Guggenheim Fellowships to a diverse group of 175 writers, scholars, artists and scientists — including Pia Borg, associate director of the Experimental Animation Program at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), who was awarded a fellowship in Film and Video.

Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen through a rigorous peer-review process from almost 3,000 applicants in the Foundation’s 95th competition.

“It’s exceptionally encouraging to be able to share such positive news at this terribly challenging time,” said Edward Hirsch, President of the Foundation. “A Guggenheim Fellowship has always offered practical assistance, helping Fellows do their work, but for many of the new Fellows, it may be a lifeline at a time of hardship, a survival tool as well as a creative one. As we grapple with the difficulties of the moment, it is also important to look to the future. The artists, writers, scholars and scientific researchers supported by the Fellowship will help us understand and learn from what we are enduring individually and collectively, and it is an honor for the Foundation to help them do their essential work.”

The great variety of backgrounds, fields of study and accomplishments of Guggenheim Fellows is a unique characteristic of the Fellowship program. In all, 53 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, 75 different academic institutions, 31 states and the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces are represented in this year’s class of Fellows, who range in age from 29 to 82. Close to 60 Fellows have no full-time college or university affiliation.

Pia Borg (b.1977) is an Australian filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Working with archival footage, CGI animation and performed re-enactments, Borg’s films portray historical and cultural events, chronicling psychological phenomena like false memory syndrome, collective hysteria and the opal fever surrounding extractive industries.

She is the recipient of numerous prizes including the Golden Leopard for best international short (Locarno Film Festival 2014) for the documentary Abandoned Goods. Her latest short film, Demonic, premiered at Cannes Critics Week 2019 and was recently nominated for an Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award. Her film Silica was installed in the Maltese Pavilion of the 57th Venice Biennale (May-Nov. 2017) and was awarded prizes at AFI fest, Ann Arbor, 25 FPS and Tacoma Film Festival.

Her animated works Footnote (2004) and Through the Hawthorne (2014; commissioned by Wellcome Trust) have been selected for prestige festivals including Cannes, Annecy, SXSW, ITFS, Ottawa Int’l Animation Festival, Hiroshima Animation Festival, Animafest, Clermont-Ferrand, Fantoche and more.

In 2015, Borg was named as one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film in Filmmaker magazine. She has recently had solo screenings of her films at REDCAT, Los Angeles, Museum of Moving Image, New York, ICA, London and Cineteca, Mexico City. In 2014, she joined the faculty of California Institute of the Arts, where she is currently the Associate Director of the Experimental Animation Program.

This year’s Film and Video Fellows also include digital media theorist and game designer Patrick Jagoda, co-founder of the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab and the Transmedia Story Lab; Jeffrey Sconce, Assoc. Professor in the Screen Cultures program at Northwestern University (author – Haunted Media: Electronic Presence from Telegraphy to Television, Technical Delusion: Electronics, Power, Insanity); and Pamela Wojcik, Professor in Film, TV & Theater at the University of Notre Dame and former President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (author – Guilty Pleasures: Feminist Camp from Mae West to Madonna; The Apartment Plot: Urban Living in American Film and Popular Culture, 1945 to 1975; Fantasies of Neglect: Imagining the Urban Child in American Film and Fiction).  

CalArts School of Art alumni J. Stoner Blackwell, Cammie Staros and Valerie Tevere, as well as recent visiting artist and Herb Alpert Award in the Arts recipient Lloyd Suh, also received fellowships.

Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $375 million in Fellowships to more than 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, poets laureate, members of the national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize, National Book Award and other internationally recognized honors. Created by Senator Simon and Olga Guggenheim in memory of their son, the Foundation has sought since its inception to “further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions.”

After 95 years, the Guggenheim Fellowship program remains a significant source of support for artists, scholars in the humanities and social sciences, and scientific researchers. In addition to the generous support of Senator Simon and Mrs. Olga Guggenheim, new and continuing donations from friends, Trustees, former Fellows, and other foundations have ensured that the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation will maintain its historic mission. An exceptionally generous bequest in 2019 from the estate of the great American novelist Philip Roth, a Fellow in 1959, is providing partial support for the wide variety of writers supported by the Foundation.

For more information on the 2020 Fellows, visit the Foundation’s website at

California Institute of the Arts has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools — Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater — CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines and cultural traditions.

Through the Hawthorne

Through the Hawthorne




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