With a healthy dose of optimism Studio Dries Verhoeven is excited to announce the presentation of a new work in the spring of 2021! Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid portrays man as a stowaway in a global distribution center. In collaboration with Bulgarian performers who have experience as migrant workers, Dries Verhoeven creates a visual requiem for human labour. The theater stages will serve as a workplace and the performers live and sleep in the West Den Haag art institution, where there is also a small exhibition around the work. The ‘living installation’ will be on view on the stages of the participating theaters every day for eight hours. Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid will premiere on Thursday 29 April 2021 at ITA in Amsterdam. At the same time, the presentation in West Den Haag will open for two months.
A visual requiem for human labour Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid asks questions about the future of work and resistance. What is our working body for today? The asparagus farmer replaces Dutch workers with people from Eastern Europe and dreams about further reducing the human factor of labour. Human jobs are taken over by robots and at Tech giants, algorithms continually search for the greatest possible profit margin. Can we actually reverse that or will we soon be rendered useless? Will there be a revival of the labour movement? Or is it better to accept the inevitable automation?
Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid is a co-production of Studio Dries Verhoeven with SPRING Performing Arts Festival and West Den Haag. In addition, there is a close cooperation with the presenting theaters: Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, ITA in Amsterdam, Het Nationale Theater in The Hague, Theater Rotterdam, Chassé Theater in Breda and Schouwburg Hengelo/Concordia Enschede.
Since 2016, we have been travelling with Guilty Landscapes to art institutions and festivals all over the world. For the first time, we now show the video installation without being physically present. Festival teatro a Mil presents the work in Antofagasta and Santiago de Chile. We will assist the festival with the realisation of the work.from a distance. With this kind of “working with instructions” we want to limit travel by plane in the coming years. For tickets and info about the presentations in Chile, click here>
From October 7 to October 11 ‘Guilty Landscapes’ will be on view at the Nowy Theater in Warsaw as part of Festival New Europe.
This year’s festival program focusses on topics such as memory, tradition, suffering, work, morals, physicality, taboos and shame – and looks for perspectives that question accepted dynamics. What is it we are actually seeing? What do we perceive and what is shown to us? ‘Guilty Landscapes’ also touches upon these subjects, questioning our relationship with uncomfortable news images and the people in them.
‘Songs for Thomas Piketty’ will be on view at After Supervising the Machines, a three-day art festival on the occasion of Friedrich Engels’ 200th birthday, held in Engels’ birth town of Engelskirchen (DE). From Thursday the 24th of September until Sunday the 27th the work will be part of a diverse program that features works by 10 artists and engages with the intellectual and social legacy of the influential political thinker and activist:
What does work mean today, in a time of serious crisis and change? To what extent is our life interwoven with work – has it even become a form of work itself? Who stands in the light, who remains invisible? How many of our professions are activities that nobody really needs, but which are often far better paid than those that are actually “systemically relevant”? And what really is: the “working class” today – in an era of global markets and networks, digital monopolies and new class struggles?
The Studio is over the moon with the news that our plans for 2021-2024 will receive generous funding from the FPK (Dutch Fund for Performing Arts) and the municipality of Utrecht. In our application Dries wrote the following: “I strive to ask hesitantly questions about our living environment with resources and places that have not yet proven themselves. In the art world right now, voices are in favor of clear position determination.Sometimes, the motto seems to be that the artist have to speak out when it comes to about moral and political issues. I want to swim against that movement. I believe that our thinking benefits from ambiguity, from gestures that complicate our thinking and suspend a firm opinion. The artist prefers not to function as a compass, but as a magnet that disrupts the compass.”
At the same time, the Studio regrets that a huge group of positively rated makers will not receive funding due to a lack of budget. The Studio aims to promote an art field in which many new and radical voices claim and receive a place. Plowing a large group of artists keeps the field fertile, it ensures that we never rest in what we already know and think we know. We therefore see the denial of support from the FPK for Lotte van den Berg and Urland and from the Municipality of Utrecht for Julian Hetzel as a major loss.
We are euphoric that, as the Covid-19 restrictions* are gradually lifted, we now have the opportunity to show “You are here” once again. In cooperation with the organisations of SPRING Performing Arts Festival and Theaterfestival Boulevard, the installation-performance will be presented in the Netherlands for the first time in thirteen years. With a new cast of young performers, the work will be performed 66 times over the summer, both in Utrecht and in ‘s Hertogenbosch.
In an installation, reminiscent of a hotel, each audience member will get their own bedroom. Here they are alone and anonymous, until they learn about the visitors in the other rooms. In its original set up the work functioned as a model for the anonymity associated with city life, where people simultaneously live similar lives. Due to the social implications caused by the current pandemic, the work will now also be a reflection on our time in self isolation, a time in which the proximity of strangers suddenly became a threat.
The work was selected for the Dutch and Flemish Theatre Festival, has received the 2009 Young Directors Award at the Salzburger Festspiele, and the 2008 VSCD Mimeprijs.
> 8 until 18 July 2020, Werkspoorkathedraal in Utrecht, springutrecht.nl – sold out
> 6 until 16 August 2020, Brabanthallen in ‘ festivalboulevard.nl – sold out
In March this year, Dries had an encounter with a homeless man from Albania named Rele, in the town centre of Bonn, Germany. The singing and panhandling voice of Rele is to be heard coming out of a boom box in front of the entrance of the Bundeskunsthalle, where the act of begging is normally banned. The presentation is part of “State of the arts”, an exhibition about the merging of visual and performing arts.
Upon invitation from West Den Haag Dries wrote a reconsideration on (and from the perspective of) the arts in time of a crisis. He writes about the current state of insecurity and the pathologically confident and congenial art sector of yesterday.
‘In Doubt’, an overview of the works of the studio made between 2003-2019 is available now at online book retailers such as Bol.comand Amazon.The book will be available at brick and mortar establishments soon.
The monograph, published by Kerber and designed by Detlev Pusch, contextualises 15 works in thematic chapters, using photographs by Willem Popelier, Sascha Weidner and others. The book includes essays by author Christiaan Weijts, theatre and performance scholar Maaike Bleeker, as well as critic Evelyne Coussens. 160 pages full color. For an impression of the book, see here
The installation Homo Desperatus is now on permanent display at the Verbeke Foundation (Kemzeke, BE). In Homo Desperatus 70,000 ants inhabited life-like scale models of human suffering. The glass cases, now minus the ant colonies, contain models of the nuclear reactor in Fukushima, a drug clinic in Germany, and a collapsed Bangladeshi garment factory – all derelict and abandoned. A video of the work reveals the dystopian world when it was still inhabited by the ant colonies.
On the 12th of November 2018, along with several co-signatories we published Code radicaliteit, a plea for more unsolicited art in the Utrecht of the future. Against the substantive simplification, public pleasantries and the legitimising of art with political policy terms.For an art field that creates the agenda, for critical stance and artistic risk. read Code radicaliteit here (in Dutch)
Want to sign Code radicaliteit? Please visit the online version here.
‘Intermedial Performance and Politics in the Public Sphere’, released in August 2018 by Palgrave Macmillan, contributes to a lively, dynamic discussion across several disciplines, including theatre and performance studies, political and social sciences and media studies. Apart from attention for Verhoeven’s work, it includes interviews with intermedial artists and companies such as BERLIN, Rimini Protokoll and Kris Verdonck.
The scale model sold on the construction site, can be ordered here. For 12,50 euro the gypsum statue (21 x 15,5 x 9cm) is yours, to be picked up in Utrecht (unfortunately the statue has proven to be too fragile for posting).
We are delighted by the news that Phobiarama has been selected for the Flanders Theaterfestival.
The jury report says: “Phobiarama is flawless horror-delectation with a razor-sharp underlying message. Afterwards, you return to the outside world with a keener awareness of fear’s destructive mechanisms, and can’t help seeing your everyday reality and other fellow humans, differently.”
In January 2018, in the offstage competition of the Fadjr International Theater Festival in Teheran, Verhoeven won the prize for ‘best international performance’. Writing about his video work Guilty Landscapes, the jury stated that it calls for a dialogue in the arts. Guilty Landscapes is an interactive video installation that brings the viewer in direct contact with someone standing amidst a presumed ‘guilty landscape’: a site we usually see only on the news. In 2016, Verhoeven made a series of four of these landscapes. The third episode, entitled ‘Homs’, was screened last week at the theatre festival in Teheran.