About

Dries Verhoeven (1976 Oosterhout, the Netherlands) is a theatre maker and visual artist. Since 2020 he has been a member of the Akademie van Kunsten (Dutch Society of Arts).

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. Phobiarama (2017), a theatrical ghost train erected in the middle of the street, questions the presence of angst-fuelling rhetoric in politics.

The work by Dries Verhoeven is shown in international festivals, such as Wiener Festwochen, LIFT (London), Festival Transamérique (Montreal) and Holland Festival (Amsterdam). Verhoeven has received various prizes, including the Mont Blanc Young Directors Award at the Salzburger Festspiele (You are here) and in 2018 an award for ‘Best International Performance’ at the Fadjr International Theater Festival in Teheran (Guilty Landscapes). He has worked with HAU Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, 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 Dutch Performing Arts Fund provide continuous support for Verhoeven’s studio. Dries Verhoeven resides in Berlin and Amsterdam.

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publications

‘In Doubt’ published by Kerber. Overview of works 2003-2019, with essays by Christiaan Weijts, Maaike Bleeker and Evelyne Coussens (2020)

 

In ‘Thinking through theatre and performance’ (2019) Maaike Bleeker writes about the production of No man’s land

 

Intermedial Practice, principles and practice, door Mark Crossley. Dries Verhoeven on  ‘Guilty Landscapes’ (2019).

 

Liesbeth Groot Nibbelink on Dries Verhoeven in ‘Nomadic Theatre, Mobilizing Theater and Practice on the European Stage (2019).

 

Intermedial Performance and Politics in the public sphere, Palgrave uitgevers. Katia Arfara writes about ‘No Mans land’ and other works (2018).

 

‘Scratching where it hurts’, Overview of works 2015-2015. Self published (2016). For € 18 (excl. shipping) you can order the book via pr@driesverhoeven.com.

 

Performance in the Twenty-First Century: Theatres of Engagement, Andy Lavender, uitgegeven door Routledge (2016).

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

 

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

 

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

texts by Dries Verhoeven

‘By touch’, Dries Verhoeven (2020).

read the article

‘Code Radicality’, Dries Verhoeven (2018).

read the article (in Dutch)

‘Only doubt can save us’, Dries Verhoeven (2017).

read the article

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

read the column (in Dutch)

‘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

articles

2020


‘You are Here is an impressive ritual for the 21st century. Not only does it encourage us to slow down and relax, but also restores a sense of openness in our relationship with others and ourselves.’

‘Impressive ritual for the 21st century’, Fransien van der Putt for Theaterkrant.nl (11-07-2020)
read the review (in Dutch)

Project related texts can be found at Works


2019


“In Verhoeven’s installations, happenings and performances, the viewer is implicated in the project in a way that is difficult to predict, and often radically so, although based on an open relationship—namely, that of a voluntary glance.”

Kasia Torz in Klaxon
read the article (from page 59)

“The muck has to go somewhere.”

For Mister Motley Selm Wenselaer interviewed Verhoeven about his installation Happiness at the NDSM-wharf and on the question if art can still disrupt the public space (19-03-19)
read the interview here (in Dutch)

“Verhoeven employed the censorship to provoke a discussion on the paternalism of the Finnish state.”

DutchCulture and the Dutch Performing Arts Fund organised Artistiek Kompas, a symposium on artistic freedom and censorship. An interpretation of four international cases in which artists had to adapt their work in order to be able to show it. (May 2019).
read the article by Errol Boon

Project related texts can be found at Works


2017


Wanna Play? is one of the works discussed in ‘Attention Please! Changing Modes of Engagement in Device-Enabled One-to-One Performance Encounters’

Eirini Nedelkopoulou in Contemporary Theatre Review (November 2017).
read the article

“Verhoeven masterfully displays the gap between the visible and the real: he displays, in front of the eyes of the spectators in an explicit and ‘live’ way, the artificiality of fear and that fear is nothing more than a product of ‘fiction.’”

Mehmet Kerem Özel wrote an article for Art Unlimited titled: ‘Dries Verhoeven’s theatrical world based on spectators’ experience’ (October 2017).
read the article

Project related texts can be found at Works


2016


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)

‘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)

‘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)

‘With or without theater seats’

Paul van der Steen interviewed Verhoeven and Casper Van de putte 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’

Wouter Hillaert interviewed Verhoeven for De Standaard (07-11-2015).
read the article (in Dutch)

Project related texts can be found at Works

 

2015 – 2012


‘Ants Against the Apocalypse’

Agnese Čivle interviewed Verhoeven for Arterritory.com (04-11-2015).
read the interview

“Dank dieser Installation verwickelten sich sehr unterschiedliche Passanten in Gespräche: Der öffentliche Raum wurde wieder zu einem Verhandlungsort scheinbar längst abgesteckter und kaum hinterfragter Normen.”

Neue realitäten: Jahrbuch des Bundesverband Freie Darstellende Künste 2014/15′ by Tobias Brenk (05-10-2015).
read the text (in German)

‘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)

‘Perceiving and Believing: An Enactive Approach to Spectatorship’,

Maaike Bleeker and Isis Germano in Theatre Journal (66:3), p. 363-384 (May 2014).
go to the download page

‘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

Project related texts can be found at Works

 

2011 – 2004


Thinking in motion’ (‘Bewegend denken’)

Essay by Nienke Scholts in Etcetera #125, p. 44 (June 2011).
read the essay (in Dutch)

‘”De toeschouwer is voor mij de hoofdpersoon. Ik wil weten hoe hij of zij kijkt en luistert, ik wil verwarren en beroeren, en hem vervolgens aan het denken zetten.”‘

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’

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)

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)

‘Danger must always be lurking in theatre’ (‘Bij toneel moet gevaar op de loer liggen’)
read the article (in Dutch)

Project related texts can be found at Works