Guido van der Werve's show is about depression, the draining feeling of exhaustion that strips a person of every purpose, reducing his or her existence to a mere intake of oxygen, the physical mechanism that keeps someone alive. Such automatic yet consuming routine is at the root of the cosmic boredom a depressed person is affected by, but it's also the key to keep that person moving through his ups and downs, the osmosis that inextricably connects an individual with the world on the outside.
Guido van der Werve treats depression with running, to the point that he has grown addicted to it. A repetitive activity that keeps body and brain in sync, a way out of the staleness of the mind, I guess. The Dutch artist runs around his own house, continuously; he runs from New York's PS1 to a grave in the aptly-named Valhalla, NY, where Russian composer Sergey Rachmaninov is resting. Rachmaninov used to be affected by depression, so Van der Werve brought him a bouquet of chamomile flowers, which are known for their calming properties. A delivery carried with a mission in his heart, I suppose, or maybe just a runner's high. Thing is, the effort is endearing, the gesture is beautiful.
But Van der Werve's hardest endeavor was climbing Mount Aconcagua, an Argentinean colossus 6962 meters tall, a literally breath-taking, two-week long struggle against his own biological nature. As I was reading his three-page account of the last hours of his adventure, I could almost feel my head getting lighter, the oxygen turning from a God-given quantum of solace into a capricious, compulsive need. More than his photos – the self portrait taken on the mountain delivers a fear that is deeper than just not making it, or at least that was my impression when I saw it – the artist's writing expresses what the show's title stands for. It's not only about reaching the top of your own Everest, it's about getting comfortable in one's own boots.
~Nicola Bozzi, a writer living in Amsterdam.
(Images: Guido van der Werve, running towards the Rachmanikov grave; self-portrait on top of Mount Aconcagua; Courtesy of Galerie Juliètte Jongma, Amsterdam)