Focus on Guido van der Werve

Guido van der Werve, Nummer twee, just because I’m standing here doesn’t mean I want to, 2023

The work of Guido van der Werve has been shown widely, finding recognition in both the art and film worlds. He is best known for performances in which he pushes his body to its physical limits -his epic feats include standing for 24 hours at the North Pole, completing a thousand-mile triathlon, being hit by a moving car- accompanied by classical musical arrangements often composed by himself. Not wanting to perform in front of an audience, Van der Werve documents his performances on video. Cinema thus becomes the means to convey an emotional immediacy similar to music. Set in spectacular landscapes, nature plays an essential part of his works, often focused on a personal and philosophical approach, united by a sense of wonder that pervades the banality of everyday experience, and combines autobiographical elements with recurring themes such as classical music, endurance sports, chess.


Guido van der Werve (1977, Papendrecht, Netherlands, lives and works between Amsterdam, Berlin, and Hassi) trained at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and in 2006 was resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. In 2008 he participated in the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York and in 2011 he was in residence at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin.

Solo exhibitions include: GRIMM Gallery, Amsterdam (2023); Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam (2022); SongEun Art Space, Seoul (2020); CONDO São Paulo (2019); FuturDome, Milan (2018).

His works have been part of group exhibitions at institutions such as Kunsthaus Zurich (2020), CCK Buenos Aires (2017), Kunsthaus Graz (2015), MAXXI Rome (2014), Fondazione Prada (2014), MoMA New York (2013), GAMeC, Bergamo (2013).

He has participated in Biennials and international events such as Performa 13 (2013) and Performa 11 (2011), Moscow Biennial (2011), Venice Biennale (2010), Istanbul Biennial (2015), Manifesta 07 (2008).

His works are present in the collections of international institutions such as: Fondazione Giuliani, Rome; Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; MoMA, New York; M Woods Museum, Beijing; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (NL).


2022 Nummer Achttien; 2015 Number zeventien, killing time attempt 1from the deepest ocean to the highest mountain; 2015 Nummer zestien, the present moment; 2013 Nummer vijftien, at war with oneself; 2012 Nummer veertien, home; 2011 Nummer dertien, emotional poverty in three effugium; 2009 Nummer Twaalf; 2009 Nummer elf, chess Piano concert in three movements; 2003-2007 Nummer tien, works; 2007 Nummer negen, the day I didn’t turn with the world; 2007 Nummer acht, everything is going to be alright; 2006 Nummer zeven, the clouds are more beautiful from above; 2006 Nummer zes, Steinway grand piano, wake me up to go to sleep and all the color of the rainbow; 2005 Nummer vier, I don’t want to get involved in this. I don’t want to be part of this. Talk me out of it; 2004 Nummer drie, take step fall; 2003 Nummer twee, just because I’m standing here doesn’t mean I want to.


15 November 2023
Cinema La Compagnia

Netherlands, 2023, 94'
vo: Dutch, English, German; sub: English, Dutch, Italian
Italian premiere in the presence of the artist

In 2016, following a serious car accident, the author remained in a coma for a month. Film recounts his rehabilitation by intertwining scenes from his childhood in which difficult relationships with his parents emerge. It is composed of numerous elements, also from other previous videos by the artist: 8 mm films and paintings made by the artist’s father, a choir and an orchestra, an alter ego of the artist himself impersonated by a little red-haired girl, the family home in Papendrecht, his home in Finland and the medical center in Berlin where he stayed after the accident.

16 November 2023
Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze

The Dutch artist presents their work through a combination of performance and video.

16 November 2023
Cinema La Compagnia

16 mm transferred to HD, 2007, 10'10"
In the presence of the artist

In the Finnish Gulf of Bothnia, the artist is filmed while he’s walking on an ice field in front of an enormous icebreaker. There is no music, only the dull thuds of the ship as it travels along its trajectory. In the wide shot, van der Werve seems fragile and tiny, about to be swallowed by the immense ship behind him.

16 November 2023
Cinema La Compagnia

Video 4K, 2012, sound, 54’
In the presence of the artist

The cemetery of Père Lachaise is the place where Frédéric Chopin is buried, minus his heart, which his sister secretly took to a church in Warsaw to fulfill the composer’s last wish. The artist embarks on a journey from Poland to France as if it were a triathlon. The film is a requiem in three movements and twelve acts in which three narratives intertwine: the journey completed as an Ironman marathon, an unreal return to his native Holland and some scenes inspired by the journey that Alexander the Great made from Macedonia to Babylon.

18 November 2023
Cinema La Compagnia

16mm transferred to HD, 2003, sound, 03’08”

Standing on a suburban street, the artist slowly walks backwards until he is hit by a car. A blue police van stops. Five young dancers emerge and dance Corelli’s Christmas Night Concert in front of the artist’s inert body.

18 November 2023
Cinema La Compagnia

35mm transferred to HD, 2006, 17’09”
vo: English, Dutch; sub: English, Italian

Sitting on a stool at his upright piano, the artist is immersed in his thoughts while a voice-over tells the story of the Steinway & Sons grand piano and how very few pianists still have the privilege to play this instrument. Wandering dejectedly through the streets of Amsterdam, he continues to think of the Steinway. In the next scene, a crane hoists the large piano through the window of the narrow room of his apartment. Here an entire chamber orchestra accompanies him in the performance of Chopin’s first piano concerto.