Guido van der Werve is a Dutch filmmaker and artist whose work has been exhibited and screened widely, finding recognition in both the art and film world. He is best known for documented performances in which he pushes his body to its physical limits, accompanied by classical musical arrangements – often composed by himself. Among the feats of incredible endurance and peril the artist has performed—standing on the North Pole for 24 hours, completing a 1500 kilometer triathlon, setting himself on fire, being hit by a speeding car—he finds moments of serenity and even banality in each rendition.

Van der Werve started out as a performance artist but unwilling to perform live and more than once, he began to document his performances. Developing this practice, he became interested in film and cinematography, where he found a similar emotional directness as in music. The foundation of Van der Werve’s work is performance, but he has incorporated music, text, and athletics as recurring elements. Thus far, Van der Werve has created seventeen elaborate video works, all of which are numbered in Dutch and subtitled in English.

In 2023, Van der Werve presented his first feature film titled Nummer achttien - the breath of life. After a near-fatal accident, the artist muses about the highs and lows of his own life as he endures a long process of recovery. The movie is structured as a series of movements: it departs from the classical documentary to present us with a series of vignettes that combine past and present, existentialist despair and deadpan humour, existentialist despair and deadpan humour, reflection and creativity, the joys and pains of remembering and forgetting.

Guido van der Werve (b. 1977 in Papendrecht, NL) lives and works in Amsterdam (NL), Berlin (DE) and Hassi (FI). He studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam (NL) from 1998 until 2003 and he was a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam (NL) in 2006 and 2007. He took part in the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York, NY (US) in 2008. Van der Werve was a resident at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (DE) in 2011. The artist has also studied Industrial Design at the Technical Univerity, Delft (NL); Classical Archaeology at the University of Amsterdam (NL); Russian language, culture and literature at the University of Amsterdam (NL) and he was trained as a classical pianist by the Rotterdam Conservatory (NL).

In 2022, Van der Werve was the subject of a solo retrospective at the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam (NL) titled Palpable Futility. The artist has received many awards including the Volkskrant Beeldende Kunst Prijs in 2007 (NL); the Grant to Artists of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New York, NY (US) in 2008; the Prix International d’Art Contemporain of the Foundation Prince Pierre de Monaco in 2010 (MC); the Charlotte Koehler Prijs from the Prins Bernhard Cultuur Fonds in 2012 (NL); the Grand Prix (Gouden Kalf) for Best Short Film at the Netherlands Film Festival in 2013 and the Cobra Kunstprijs, Amstelveen (NL) in 2021. Van der Werve’s work has been exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA (US); Kyoto City University of Arts Art Gallery, Kyoto (JP); Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (US); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NL); Kunsthalle, Basel (CH); Tel Aviv Art Museum, Tel Aviv (IL); Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei (TW); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (DK); the High Line in New York, NY (US); Fluentum, Berlin (DE), and in many other venues and festivals. Van der Werve’s musical compositions have been performed live by various orchestral arrangements including: Fluentum in Berlin (DE); the Matangi Quartet at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (NL); the American Symphony Orchestra at MoMA/PS1 in New York, NY (US); the St. Louis Philharmonic at the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis, MO (US) and the Orchestra of Europe at the Clara Kirche in Basel (CH).

His work can be found in the collections of international institutions such as: AMC Collection, Amsterdam (NL); Collezione La Gaia, Busca (IT); Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX (US); Fondazione Giuliani, Rome (IT); Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem (NL); Galleria d‘Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin (IT); Hall Art Foundation, Derneburg (DE) & Reading, VT (US); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (US); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (NL); Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht (NL); Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (US); Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar (NL); M Woods Museum, Beijing (CN); Nederlands Instituut voor Mediakunst, Amsterdam (NL); The Rachofsky Collection, Dallas, TX (US); Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam (NL); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (NL) and the Zabludowicz Collection, London (UK) among others.