Guido van der Werve: CONDO São Paulo

Press release

GRIMM is proud to announce its participation in CONDO São Paulo, with a presentation of three iconic video works by Dutch artist Guido van der Werve (1977, Papendrecht), hosted by Casa Triângulo. This presentation coincides with a solo presentation of Van der Werve’s work at both GRIMM’s gallery spaces in Amsterdam.

Guido van der Werve is best-known for his video documented performances in which he pushes his body to the limits; physically testing his endurance, exhaustion and perseverance. Scenes of the artist standing on the North Pole for 24 hours, completing a 1500 kilometer triathlon, setting himself on fire, or being hit by

a car at full speed are examples of his extreme actions, that are accompanied by his own musical compositions. Three successive films, that stand at the core of Van der Werve’s poetic oeuvre, Nummer twee, just because I’m standing here doesn’t mean I want to (2003), Nummer drie, take step fall (2004) and 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. (2005), will be on view at the gallery in São Paulo for the duration of CONDO.

“In a digital video shot in 35mm, Nummer twee [Number two], 2003, Dutch artist Guido van der Werve addresses the camera with a deadpan stare as an inner narrative reveals his ennui:

Just because I’m standing here doesn’t mean I want to.” Standing on a suburban street, he walks backward slowly; focusing on the audience rather than the traffic, he is hit by a car. A blue police van pulls up; five young ballerinas emerge and dance to Corelli’s Christmas Concerto in front of his inert body, against a backdrop of nondescript condo buildings.

Projected sequentially on a large movie screen, Nummer drie [Number three] 2004, and Nummer vier [Number four] 2005, continue the theme: reflections of a youthful creative genius in an existential crisis. Number Three begins at the artist’s local Chinese takeout, where eight nubile dancers perform a minuet to Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet on a cramped balcony above a tableau vivant of patrons too preoccupied with their own thoughts to take notice. Next our hero lurks against a building between two second-floor windows, dressed in black, like a burglar; the only sound is the gently swooshing traffic below. The image fades out as the passing headlights get brighter; we can only guess that he may jump at any moment. Finally, an angelic ballerina dances to a Chopin Nocturne among misty trees lit by streetlamps; she does not lose her poise when, comically, a random tree falls behind her. All of these surreal juxtapositions construct a timeless poetic reality.”

–Cathryn Drake for ArtForum