About

photo by Jeva Griskjane

Dries Verhoeven (1976 Oosterhout, the Netherlands) is a theatre maker and visual artist.

Dries Verhoeven creates installations, performances and happenings in museums, on location and in the public spaces of cities. On the boundary between performance and installation art, he critically evaluates the relationships between the spectators, performers, everyday reality and art. The spectator is directly involved in the work or given the opportunity to steer his or her own experiences.

In his work, Verhoeven highlights aspects of the common social reality in which we live. He is not concerned with conveying a statement about reality, but mainly about unbalancing the visitor in order to evoke a shared vulnerability between the viewer and the viewed work. With gestures, which radically affect the public order of everyday life, he hopes to sow the seeds of doubt about the systems that inconspicuously influence our thoughts and actions. In recent years, the current crisis mind-set and the influence of digital media on interpersonal relationships in particular have formed the basis for his projects.

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In his early performances, Verhoeven worked together with exceptional people: young children, the elderly (Empty Hands, 2010), the blind (Dark room, 2011), refugees and immigrants (No man’s land, 2008). The performances challenged the visitor to consider her own world from an unexpectedly different perspective.

The meaning of the space is of great significance for Verhoeven’s work. In 2007, for the performative installation You are here, Verhoeven created a hotel for thirty visitors. Through a 400 m² mirrored ceiling, the visitor could see other spectators who, just like him, lay alone in a room. The installation functioned as a model for ‘being collectively alone’ in a modern city.

In the baroque requiem mass, The Funeral (2014), lost elements of society were carried to their graves in a Neo-Gothic church, following a Catholic liturgy dramaturgical spine. With The Funeral, Verhoeven highlighted the doom rhetoric sometimes expressed by politicians and cultural pessimists.

Since 2012, the work by Dries Verhoeven has shifted more towards visual art. Where the conventions in theatre are based on a stationary spectator (the visitor remains seated on a chair, unless he loses interests and walks away), the conventions of museums are rooted in a moving visitor (the visitor walks on to the next hall, unless she becomes interested in a particular work of art). According to Verhoeven, this provides an actively thinking viewer. This applies to the passer-by on the street to an even greater extent. In principal, he continues walking unless an artistic gesture interests or confuses him enough that he slows down or stops walking all together.

That’s why the works in the public arena often have no clear start and end. They function in a ‘loop’. The unsuspecting passer-by is challenged to determine how much time she will invest, and her position in relation to the work. The pieces temporarily disrupt the public order to question the prevailing status quo: the way we have designed public spaces and what we normally show and conceal there.

In the human exhibition Ceci n’est pas… (2013), Verhoeven exhibited exceptional people in a glass display case in the middle of a city. Each day, passers-by’s found themselves confronted with a different ‘exception to the rule’. In Homo Desperatus (2014), Verhoeven’s first solo exhibition, 70.000 ants lived in scale models of our current human catastrophes. ‘Via the ant’, the viewer looked at how humanity deals with disasters. In Wanna play? (Love in the time of Grindr) (2014), Verhoeven examined the changing nature of love in a time when dating apps like Grindr and Tinder supply ‘intimacy on demand’. His life and search for connection was visible to everyone for 10 days, 24/7. With the video installation Guilty Landscapes (2016) Verhoeven brings the reality of uncomfortable news images confrontingly close. He poses the question of whether a personal connection is possible between the viewer and the person being viewed.

The work by Dries Verhoeven was shown in international festivals, such as Wiener Festwochen, LIFT (London) and Festival Transamérique (Montreal). He has received various prizes including the Mont Blanc Young Directors Award at the Salzburger Festspiele. He has worked with HAU Hebbel am Ufer Berljn, Battersea Arts Centre London, and the Münchner Kammerspiele, among others. Many works were seen at SPRING, and the former Festival a/d Werf, Utrecht. The Municipality of Utrecht and the Netherlands Performing Arts Fund provide continuous support for Verhoeven’s studio. Dries Verhoeven resides in Berlin and Amsterdam.

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bibliography

‘Disruption is the objective’ (‘Ontregeling is het doel’). Journalist Evelyne Coussens interviewed Verhoeven for the Flemmish newspaper De Morgen (28-09-2016).

read the interview (in Dutch)

Dr Sigrid Merx (Media and Culture at Utrecht University) studies how artists use the city as a stage. In a reading organised by ‘Studium Generale’ entitled ‘Art disrupts’, Merx talked of how art on our streets makes us stop and think about the city. Works by Verhoeven are also addressed in the talk. Following on from the reading, Marloes ten Kate (programme maker) wrote a blog entitled ‘Confrontational art’.

read the blog (in Dutch)

view a recording of the reading (in Dutch)

‘A call for doubts’ (‘Een oproep om te twijfelen’). Lieneke Hulshof interviewed Verhoeven for Dutch art blog Mister Motley (September 2016).

read the interview (in Dutch)

‘Metropolis 2012-2015. Laboratory and festival for art and performance in urban space’ offers a retrospect of the Metropolis Festival in Kopenhagen where Ceci n’est pas.. was presented in 2015. Verhoeven wrote a text about his motivations behind the project and researcher and blogger Sofie Henningsen analyses the work in a day-to-day diary (May 2016).

read the contributions (p.134)

‘With or without theater seats’, Paul van der Steen interviewed Verhoeven and Casper Vandeputte in the context of 65 year Academy of Performing Arts Maastricht (March 2016).

lees het artikel (p. 12) (in Dutch)

‘Before I moved a vase, now I move the couch’ (‘Vroeger verplaatste ik een vaasje, nu het bankstel’), Wouter Hillaert interviewed Verhoeven for De Standaard (07-11-2015).

read the article (in Dutch)

‘Ants Against the Apocalypse’, Agnese Čivle interviewed Verhoeven for Arterritory.com (04-11-2015).

read the interview

‘Neue realitäten: Jahrbuch des Bundesverband Freie Darstellende Künste 2014/15’ by Tobias Brenk (05-10-2015).

read the text (in German)

‘Verhoeven moves the arena to the outside’ (‘Verhoeven verplaatst de arena naar buiten’), Robbert van Heuven for Theatermaker, issue on What is scenography?, p.30 – 33 (October 2015).

read the analysis (in Dutch)

‘The mirror of public space. Interview with Dries Verhoeven’, Liesbeth Groot Nibbelink. This is an excerpt of an interview, held over Skype in the Spring of 2015 (March 2015).

The full (and updated) interview will appear in the collection Intermedial Performance and Politics in the Public Sphere, edited by Katia Arfara, Aneta Mancewicz and Ralf Remshardt.

read the interview

‘Contemporary art in Dutch churches, 1990-2015. From Jan Dibbets to Tinkebell’, Joost de Wal (red.), p.31 and p.121 (February 2015).

read the publication (in Dutch)

‘Has art boxed itself into a corner?’, Stuart Jeffries for The Guardian (09-02-2015).

read the article

‘Was macht das Theater, Dries Verhoeven?’, a discussion with Dries and Anna Volkland in Theater der Zeit (November 2014).

read the interview (in German)

‘Nomad in No man’s land’, Tim de Hullu for AD/Utrechts Nieuwsblad (14-09-2013).

read the interview (in Dutch)

‘Seeing blind’, Karin Veraart interviews Verhoeven for De Volkskrant (18-05-2012).

read the interview (in Dutch)

‘Dries Verhoeven the one-man band’, Anne Gonon for Strada, p.46-48 (April 2012).

read the article

‘Partizipation der Blicke. Szenerien des Sehens und Gesehenwerdens in Theater und Performance’, Adam Czirak, transcript Verlag, Bielefeld (February 2012).

view the publication (in German)

‘Thinking in motion’ (‘Bewegend denken’) Essay by Nienke Scholts in Etcetera #125, p. 44 (June 2011).

read the essay (in Dutch)

Simon van den Berg interviewed Dries for the international English language magazine Dutch Mountains from SICA (01-02-2010).

read the interview

‘Buy a ticket for the world’ (‘Koop een kaartje voor de wereld’), Marijn van der Jagt for Vrij Nederland (09-05-2009).

read the article (in Dutch)

‘The strength of the human dimension’, a portrait of Dries as a decor designer in response to After Life, the opera by Michel van der Aa (2009).

read the portrait (in Dutch)

VSCD MIMEPRIJS 2008 jury report, You are here and No man’s land, p.18-19 (16-09-2008).

read the jury report

‘Performing stories. About the creative process of Trail tracking (Sporenonderzoek)’, an interview with Dries by Liesbeth Groot Nibbelink (01-02-2008).

read the interview (in Dutch)

‘The secret of diversity. Celebrating art, sharing and experiencing’, Bart Top, p. 27 (November 2008).

read the article (in Dutch)

Discussion with theatre makers Ellen Windhorst and Dries Verhoeven by Marijn van der Jagt for Zichtlijnen 99 (March 2005).

read the article (in Dutch)

Up until 2005, the Stichting Aanmoedigingsfonds voor de Kunsten (Dutch Arts Incentive Fund) awarded an incentive prize annually to a young, talented performing artist working behind the screens: the Wim Bary Perspective Prize. Verhoeven was awarded this prize in 2004 (17-10-2004).

read the jury report (in Dutch)

‘There must lurk danger in theatre’ (‘Bij toneel moet gevaar op de loer liggen’), Kester Freriks for NRC Handelsblad (18-10-2004).

read the article (in Dutch)

writings by Dries Verhoeven

‘Scratching where it hurts’ | Works 2012 -2015, Dries Verhoeven (2016).

view the publicatie (in Dutch and English); if you want to order a copy of the book (€ 25 + shipping & handling), please contact us via pr@driesverhoeven.com

‘Tegen de ziekte van het vriendelijk comfort’, Dries Verhoeven for Utrechts Verbond on www.nieuws030.nl (04-09-2015).

read the column (in Dutch)

’80 cm away from you’, voorstellingen/performances 2002 – 2009, Dries Verhoeven (2009).

view the publication (in Dutch and English)

‘Keinen applaus bitte. Theater als kollektive Erfahrung’ (‘No applause, please. Theater as a collective experience’), Dries Verhoeven in Theater der Zeit. Go West, Theater in Fladern und den Niederlanden (2009).

read the article (in German)

 

Project related texts can be found at Works

audio and video

At the time of the exhibition of Homo Desperatus Verhoeven recorded a number of videos in which he spoke about the creation of Homo Desperatus, his interest to present work in a museum setting and his earlier work (June 2014).

verhoeven about the creation of Homo Desperatus (in Dutch)
verhoeven about the museum and theater (in Dutch)
verhoeven about earlier work (in Dutch)

 

Project related audio and video can be found at Works