Works

Sic transit gloria mundi

Sic transit gloria mundi is the announcement of a “monument to the fall of Western hegemony”.

A building site, information centre and souvenir shop encourage the visitor to visualise the fictional monument and, by extension, a time in which the West is a less dominant world presence. The design, a gigantic marble statue of a toppled white Caucasian man, asks spectators to reconsider their personal position of power.

High wooden hoardings separate the building site from the city – it’s an invasive gesture, the city’s people are shut out. A feeling that is amplified by advertising posters in Arabic, Russian and Chinese. It’s not until people enter the visitor centre that they see the building site and witness an endlessly repetitive choreography of non-Western labourers assembling (or dismantling?) a statue. The only tangible element that seems remindful of the monument is a gigantic white hand that is continually moved around the site.

An ‘artist impression’, a digital animation and scale model give visitors an idea of the design. A text and photos contextualise the suggested monument. The souvenir shop installs the idea that the collapse of one system creates capital elsewhere. Together, these ingredients lead the viewer to meander between irony and earnest. Should we long for, fear, or embrace the West’s putative decline? The answer is ambiguous.

The title (Latin for “Thus passes the glory of the world”) is the phrase used in the past during the ritual of Papal coronation ceremonies.

Sic transit gloria mundi is the announcement of a “monument to the fall of Western hegemony”.

A building site, information centre and souvenir shop encourage the visitor to visualise the fictional monument and, by extension, a time in which the West is a less dominant world presence. The design, a gigantic marble statue of a toppled white Caucasian man, asks spectators to reconsider their personal position of power.

High wooden hoardings separate the building site from the city – it’s an invasive gesture, the city’s people are shut out. A feeling that is amplified by advertising posters in Arabic, Russian and Chinese. It’s not until people enter the visitor centre that they see the building site and witness an endlessly repetitive choreography of non-Western labourers assembling (or dismantling?) a statue. The only tangible element that seems remindful of the monument is a gigantic white hand that is continually moved around the site.

An ‘artist impression’, a digital animation and scale model give visitors an idea of the design. A text and photos contextualise the suggested monument. The souvenir shop installs the idea that the collapse of one system creates capital elsewhere. Together, these ingredients lead the viewer to meander between irony and earnest. Should we long for, fear, or embrace the West’s putative decline? The answer is ambiguous.

The title (Latin for “Thus passes the glory of the world”) is the phrase used in the past during the ritual of Papal coronation ceremonies.

Video

Sic transit gloria mundi (2018)

Press

"The construction site is a metaphor for a joint imagination of our future"

Luuk Heezen spoke with Dries in a Mr. Motley radioshow at the festival center (25-05-2018)see the interview here (in Dutch)

"Amazing to see how the GeenStijl reader so accurately vocalises the fears Verhoeven conjures up with such ingenuity. How would the reader feel to know that he’s the very person who gives this artwork its power?"

'How GeenStijl readers impart this artwork with its value. Proposition: we owe GeenStijl a big thank you' ('Hoe GeenStijl-reaguurders dit kunstwerk zijn waarde verlenen. Stelling: we mogen GeenStijl ook weleens dankbaar zijn') by Herien Wensink in De Volkskrant (24 May 2018).read the column (in Dutch)

"The artwork forces us to see that we can’t continue living our so-called comfortable little lives as decadent, complacent, brash-mouthed individuals. Because then, we’ll be wiped out."

'Sic Transit Gloria Mundi'. Ben van den Burg in his podcast voor BNR Radio (25 May 2018).listen / read his podcast (in Dutch)

"Verhoeven invites us to reflect on our ‘new’ position in the world, succeeding largely through his irony, playful approach."

'A playful way of seeing something from a different angle' ('Speelse prikkels om dingen eens anders te zien') by Sander Hiskemuller in Trouw (23 May 2018).read the article (in Dutch)

"This intervention’s subtlety is captured in these details (…) the contrast on the Neude is shocking. Beyond the walls we caught a glimpse of the well-off café clientele enjoying drinks on the terrace while within those walls we witnessed the quiet concentration of the men working the building site. The world of now in a nutshell."

'The world of now in a nutshell'('De wereld in een notendop') by Moos van den Broek for Theaterkrant.nl (26-05-2018).read the review (in Dutch)

"A cordoned-off construction site and information sign is all Verhoeven needs to confront a segment of the population with their own hatred and deepest fears."

'GeenStijl falls for Dries Verhoeven’s cunning provocation' ('Geenstijl trapt in gehaaide provocatie van Dries Verhoeven.') by Wijbrand Schaap on Cultureelpersbureau.nl (22 May 2018).read the article (in Dutch)

background and public reception

Resistance to the work popped up online – there were objections to the public space being used, plus readers’ comments (including outrage at the sight of Arabic language on a billboard) – mostly from sections of the more radical right. But articles critiquing the opposition were also in evidence. Here are links to some of the weblogs and sites:

‘Arabic text in 030 celebrates the murder of Fortuyn’ – Geen Stijl

read here (in Dutch)

‘Dries Verhoeven’s theatre piece on a city square in Utrecht makes you wonder who owns the public space. Private parties or society?’ – George Knight

read here (in Dutch)

‘These cheeky artworks made people angry’ – CJP

read here (in Dutch)

‘Utrecht: Artwork celebrates the Demise of the Fatherland and Advent of Islam!’ – Journalistenwatch

read here (in German)

‘Monument in celebration of the decline of Western culture’ – US Message Board

read here

scale model for sale

The scale model sold on the construction site, can be ordered here. For 19,95 euro (including delivery charge) the gypsum statue will be delivered at your home.

scale model – 21 x 15,5 x 9cm

Are you interested? Send us an email at info@driesverhoeven.com.

Credits

production Studio Dries Verhoeven

dramaturgy Hella Godee

animation JA arquitectura

artistic assistance / internship Alex Avgud, Tanja Becher, Tammie Kang & Marte Boneschansker

3D model Persi Ioannidou

scale model Studio Roel Huisman

gypsum team Pénélope Hémon, Nadine Westveer-De Mul, Anastasia Polychronidou

construction site Arthur van der Laaken, Peer Thielen & Francois Duquesnoy

Many thanks to Man met de Hamer (Maarten Smids)

 

Sic transit gloria mundi was co-commissioned by SPRING Performing Arts Festival.