Ceci n’est pas…

A small glass booth in the middle of the city displays a different scene each day; images we usually do not encounter in the public domain. As rare relics, people are installed behind soundproof glass. With the series of ten disconcerting images, Verhoeven hopes to expose our collective unease. The accompanying texts describe the unsettling images in a business-like manner, exemplifying the DNA of our time. read more

Unsuspecting passers-by are encouraged by the business-like presentation to determine their position in relation to these controversial images. Why are some images considered tainted when they were tolerated just twenty years ago? Have we become less malleable as species? Or have we simply lost our naive political correctness? Is it good that our children do not see certain things, or have we gone to the extremes in our drive to protect?




Ceci n’est pas… (2013) | video: Thorsten Alofs


"I found this series to be profoundly fascinating, partly due to its boldness of public confrontation, but also the amazing subtlety with which it carried its message. It was publicly provocative without being overtly confrontational."

'Radical Theatre in Poland', Brian Hashimoto on (27-11-2016)read article

"The booth is arranged ceremoniously in front of the Utrecht City hall, a masterstroke (…). On squares like that, you usually find civil statues of heroes and honorary citizens."

‘Geram voor stadhuis Utrecht is subversiever dan kunst van nu’ ('The hammering in front of the Utrecht City Hall is more subversive than art today'), Mirjam van der Linden in De Volkskrant (18-05-2013)read the review (in Dutch)

"Not many passers-by just keep on walking. The performances are confrontational enough to evoke questions."

'Verhoeven bereikt zijn doel' ('Verhoeven achieves his goal'), Peter Zonderland on (18-05-2013)read the review (in Dutch)

"They are the ones we’d rather not come face to face with in the street, but who now looked straight back at us. In all their vulnerability and insistant humanness."

'Metropolis har sat ansigt på de nøgne og skæve kroppe', Monna Dithmer in Politiken (30-8-2015)read the review (in Dannish)

"It's easy to raise a thumb online to a story on refugees. But what if this refugee is standing in front of you?"

'Vroeger verplaatste ik een vaasje, nu het bankstel', Wouter Hillaert interviewed Verhoeven for De Standaard (07-11-2015)read the article (in Dutch)

"The audaciousness, the meeting, the interrogation, they have once again emerged in the public arena (...) where Dries Verhoeven has placed figures that are recognisable and familiar and yet far removed from the comforting, famous commercial characters. Enough for you to remove your blinkers, to shake your convictions and enough to feed the debate."

'Transcendance, transition, transparence, transmissions', Marie Baudet for (10-6-2015)read the article (in French)

Background and public reception


During the Lausanne edition (July 2014) of Ceci n’est pas… the report ‘Il joue du tambour dans une cage de verre’ was made for the tv program 20 min (03-07-2014).

view the report (in French)

During the edition in Hamburg (August 2104) Verhoeven was interviewed for the Internationales Sommerfestival auf Kampnagel.

watch the interview (in German)
watch the interview (in English)


In Helsinki (November 2014), the police censored the episode of Ceci n’est pas mon corps. The festival held a press conference. The Finish news reported on the event.

view the item (in Finnish/English)

Ceci n'est pas mon corps in Helsinki

Ceci n’est pas mon corps in Helsinki

In Strasbourg (October 2013), the project led to numerous public responses. The local broadcaster, Stras TV, looked at the project and the reactions.

watch the video (in French)

Nolwen Allain wrote an article for the daily newspaper, DNA Strasbourg about the value of the controversy ‘<< Ceci n’est pas…>> agite les consciences’ (19-10-2013).

read the article (in French)

In Hamburg (August 2014), Ceci n’est pas une mère and Ceci n’est pas notre histoire led to discussion. Jan Frederik Langshausen wrote ‘Jetzt spricht der Glaskasten-Künstler’ for the Hamburger Morgenpost (12-08-2014).

read the article (in German)


In each city, a local dramaturge or theatre theorist wrote about the reactions of passers-by to the work. In Utrecht, Dries Verhoeven wrote the blog himself. A large number of these blogs can still be found online.

Kortrijk (November 2015) | Kopenhagen (August 2015) | Montreal (May 2015) | Helsinki (November 2014) | Freiburg (November 2014) | Hamburg (August 2014) | Lausanne (July 2014) | Basel (June 2014) | Strasbourg (October 2013) | Mülheim (September 2013) | Utrecht (May 2013)


The Metropolis Festival in Kopenhagen published a retrospect – ‘Metropolis 2012-2015. Laboratory and festival for art and performance in urban space’ – containing a text by Verhoeven with his motivations behind the project and a day-to-day analysis by researcher and blogger Sofie Henningsen.

read the contributions (p.134)








concept Dries Verhoeven

production Saskia Schoenmaker

artistic assistance Ilon Lodewijks

technician Roel Evenhuis

sound Koen Keevel

photography Willem Popelier and Volker Schimkus

video Thorsten Alofs

in collaboration with numerous perfomers

Ceci n’est pas… was co-commissioned by SPRING Festival Utrecht and developed within the context of “Second Cities – Performing Cities”