at war with oneself
As the protagonist of his own films, Dutch video and performance artist Guido van der Werve makes great physical demands upon himself. His works chart approaches to the experience of self and the world by staging an existentialist competition with himself. However, he not only documents the realisation of the conceived events; this documentation is also taken as a starting point from which to condense them into complex narratives about physical endurance, struggling with (one's own) nature, the passage of time, and the uncontrollable dynamics of chance.
Van der Werve, who has also completed training as a classical pianist, often anchors his narratives structurally by reference to the biographies of composers such as Rachmaninov or Chopin, as well as using his own musical compositions. In this way he produces works that measure spatial and temporal determinants by means of physical effort, yet also bear witness to a deep melancholy and the need to come to terms with isolation.
In the 56-minute film Nummer veertien, home van der Werve completes a 1,700 km triathlon – seven times the stretch of the Ironman triathlon. Swimming, cycling and running he had covered the distance from Warsaw to Paris to retrace, in the opposite direction, the route that Chopin's heart travelled before being buried. The filmic narrative's division into three parts not only corresponds to the triathlon but also to the requiem that van der Werve composed himself for this occasion. It is also used as a soundtrack.
Nummer veertien, home is part of the latest group of works by van der Werve, in which his theme is sport alongside classical music. He plans to complete and review this group with his artist's book produced on the occasion of the exhibition in the Secession, Nummer vijftien, at war with oneself. The extensive publication includes textual and pictorial documents, self-reflective pieces and analyses of his works from the last five years.
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