Since 2003, when Guido van der Werve made his first film, the Dutch artist has based his works on offbeat, intense performative actions, which play on a continual shift from the real to the fantastic. Music, resistance and nature reoccur as symbolic components in his metaphysical visions, in which the artist often assumes the multiple roles of protagonist, composer and marathon runner. Solitary challenges of overcoming one’s own personal limits, marked by fears and emotional obstacles, are chronicled in a matter-of-fact way, capable however, of revealing a profoundly ironic and romantic spirit.
Nummer veertien, home (2012) is his most recent and first feature-length film. Presented for the first time in Italy, it will be on view at the Fondazione Giuliani from 5th February through 23rd March 2013. Concurrently with the screening of the film, it will also be possible to see the video You’re always only half a day away, which constitutes one of the components of the work Nummer dertien, emotional poverty from 2010-2011.
For twenty days and a distance of over 1700 km, Guido van der Werve embarked on an extreme pilgrimage from Poland to France, swimming, cycling and running from Warsaw to the tomb of Frédéric Chopin in Paris. The Polish composer’s dying wish, who was to be buried in the Parisian cemetery of Père Lachaise, was that his heart be returned to Poland to the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw, where the film Nummer veertien, home begins. A requiem composed by van der Werve accompanies three intersecting narratives: his own nostalgic journey at the pace of a triathlon, a surreal return to his native Holland, and a documentary on Alexander the Great who, like Chopin, died far from home. A key element of the film and characteristic of van der Werve’s practice, is the calibrated use of subtle deadpan humour that loosens the gloomy and melancholic atmosphere of his works and make his arduous performances almost surreal. The search for a balance between contradicting states of mind and emotions acts as metaphor of an intimate interior conflict that through the various films is extrapolated, played down, made more sustainable.
In Nummer dertien, emotional poverty, the myth of ‘no return’, emotional stasis and a latent sense of failure become triggers of three extreme endurance tests which are documented through a series of slides, photographs, text and the video You’re always only half a day away. In the video van der Werve runs without stopping around the perimeter of his house in Finland, ironically challenging both himself and the attention of the spectator for twelve consecutive hours.
Coproduced by the Fondazione Giuliani, Nummer veertien, home was presented for the first time in Europe at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and is currently on view at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam from 25th January to 28th April 2013.
Guido van der Werve (b. 1977, Papendrecht, Holland) lives in Hassi, Finland and Berlin. Recent solo shows include Secession, Vienna (upcoming 2013); Nummer veertien, Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York (2012); Emotional Poverty, Galerie Juliette Jongma, Amsterdam (2011); Blackbox, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC (2009); Everything is going to be alright, Hayward Gallery, London (2008); on parity of days, Kunsthalle Basel (2008).