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Nummer achttien, the breath of life

by Guido van der Werve
Netherlands, 2023, 94’
Presented at the 16th edition of Lo schermo dell’arte, 2023
Screenplay: Guido van der Werve
Cinematography: Ben Geraerts
Editing: Denise Janzee
Sound: Peter Stoel
Music: Guido van der Werve
Producer: Danielle Guirguis
Language: V.O. (Voiceover): Dutch, English, German; S.T. (Subtitles): English, Dutch, Italian
Dutch artist Guido van der Werve describes his first feature film as “autofiction”. Like a piece of classical music, it is structured in a series of movements and is an autobiographical story in which past and present are intertwined. In 2016, following a serious car accident, Van der Werve remained in a coma for a month. Nummer achttien recounts his difficult and miraculous rehabilitation also recalling scenes from childhood from which the difficult relationships with his parents emerge. It is composed of numerous elements: 8 mm films and paintings made by the artist’s father, a choir and an orchestra that occasionally enters the scene (in a cemetery, in a supermarket), an alter ego of the artist himself impersonated by a little red-haired girl. Locations from other previous videos by the artist appear, such as the family home in Papendrecht in the Netherlands, his home in Finland and the medical center in Berlin where he stayed after the accident, and immediately started to film his rehabilitation. The film is pervaded by a sense of melancholy even if there are moments of humor, and delves into the depths of human existence: how life can be fragile and, sometimes, absurd.
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).
Selected Filmography
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.