Works

The Funeral

In The Funeral, current politics of fear and crisis are encapsulated in ten baroque funeral masses, a happening reflecting on the doom rhetoric of politicians and cultural pessimists. The spectators ponder the ‘death’ of vanished ideas, values or parts of our society and get the opportunity to pay their last respects. Together, they look back on the role ‘the deceased’ concepts or ideas played in their life, after which they carry them to the grave.

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The happening takes place in a Neo-Gothic church and follows the liturgy of a Catholic funeral service. A priest, a deacon and altar boys lead the service, a choir and professional coffin-bearers are present. After the service, there is a procession through the city and a burial at a previously constructed cemetery. Each day, a different value or element of society is buried: ‘The multicultural society’, ‘Our post-colonial feelings of guilt’, ‘Belief in God’, ‘Our privacy’, etc.

By asking the visitors to stand, kneel and pray together, to walk in procession to the cemetery and to shovel earth onto the coffin, they become complicit in creating this ritualistic service, and invited to take a position in relation to the value or idea buried that day.

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Video

The Funeral at the Wiesbaden Biennale 2016 | video: Sofia Samoylova

The Funeral at SPRING Festival Utrecht (2014) | video: Thorsten Alofs

Press

"The funeral was the final chapter in an equally serene as playful ‘performance’."

‘Sereen theater in RK-kerk’ ('Serene theatre in a RC Church'), Ron Rijghard in NRC Handelsblad (23-05-2014)read the review (in Dutch)

"An oasis of inspiration, fortitude, humour and bravery in times of recognition and conservatism in the Arts."

‘Dries Verhoeven op scherp in ‘De Uitvaart’. Magisch theater in tandeloze tijd’ ('Dries Verhoeven, astute in ‘De Uitvaart’. Magical theatre in a toothless time'), George Knight in his blog (23-05-2014)read the comments

"In ‘De Uitvaart’, the church is the pigeon coop and death is the cat."

‘Funeral for decayed ideas’, interview by Peter van de Vusse in AD Utrechts Nieuwsblad (30-04-2014)read the article (in Dutch)

"The piece is highly amusing, at times even moving."

‘Alternatieve begrafenis werkt op lachspieren’ ('Alternative funeral works on the funny bone'), Moos van den Broek on Theaterkrant.nl (15-05-2014)read the review (in Dutch)

Background and public reception

blog

Every day during The Funeral, there is an obituary published in a local newspaper. Photos of the farewell to ‘the deceased’ appear in the afternoon and the following morning, there is a video reportage of The Funeral. Advertisements, prayer cards (see photo), photos and videos are gathered in a public blog.

view the blog of Utrecht 2014 (in Dutch)

view the blog of Wiesbaden 2016 (in German)

achtergrond,-bidprentjes

controversy

In Utrecht, a small group of believers came out in protest against the performance of De Uitvaart. They believed the church was being desecrated by the happening.

For De Volkskrant, Charlotte Huisman wrote about the affairs: ‘Worshippers leave Utrecht church after ‘desecration’ by theatre maker’.

read the article (in Dutch)

Both Verhoeven and SPRING-director Rainer Hofman wrote a letter directed to the believers and other interested parties.

read the letter written by Verhoeven (in Dutch)
read the letter written by Rainer Hofman (in Dutch)

radio & television

Several national media reported on the edition in Wiesbaden (2016), such as Bild, ZDF and ARTE.

View item Bild (in German)
View item ZDF (in German)

Die Beerdigung (The Funeral) in ARTE Journal, 29 August 2016

publication

‘Hedendaagse kunst in Nederlandse kerken 1990-2015 Van Jan Dibbets tot Tinkebell’ (‘Contempory Art in Dutch churches 1990-2015. From Jan Dibbets to Tinkerbell’) offers an overview of Dutch contemporary art in churches, Joost de Wal (ed.).

view the publication (in Dutch)

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Credits

director Dries Verhoeven

text Dries Verhoeven and Jibbe Willems

priest Victor Mees

deacon Wil Kwaak

ministrants Julia Harmsen, Rens Clijnk, Derick Pieter and Noa van den Beukel

organ player Bob van der Linde

production Saskia Schoenmaker

production assistent Ilon Lodewijks

technician Roel Evenhuis

photography Willem Popelier, Jeva Griskjane

video Thorsten Alofs

guidance funeral SENS uitvaarten and De Dragerscentrale

choirs Koor Bon Ton, Kamerkoor JIP and Kamerkoor Saudade

Co-commissioned by SPRING Festival Utrecht (2014) and the Wiesbaden Biennale (2016)