On Sunday 22 May, the Fentener van Vlissingen Cultuurprijs has been awarded to Dries Verhoeven for his exceptional contribution to art in the city of Utrecht and far beyond. The prize is awarded every three years.
“Dries Verhoeven is a versatile Utrecht artist with roots in theatre, who moves effortlessly between multiple art disciplines. Verhoeven continues to develop and is an inspiration for many other artists”, according to Lisette Pelsers, chairwoman of the Fentener van Vlissingen Fonds.
The award ceremony took place in the Ping Pong Club in Utrecht on the Wisselspoorterrein, where the latest work The NarcoSexuals can also be seen until 6 June.
Ten years ago, Dries had a disturbing encounter with a sex worker on the beach of Sri Lanka. While Dries was doing research on the effects of the Tsunami, the boy persisted in offering his body. When Dries told him that perhaps he needed to protect his young body from the lusts of Western men, the boy replied, “You patronising Westerner want to tell me what is good for me. I don’t have a problem, you have a problem.” Dries chewed on that answer for a while and then made the fourth Episode of Guilty Landscapes.
Media festival Impakt in Utrecht (NL) is now showing the video installation as part of the exhibition “Modern Love”, for more info please visit the festival’s website
Dries will also be participating in a panel discussion about internet language and love, “The Language of Love (on the internet)” together with Linda Duits, Kelli van der Waals and Lilian Stolk. The panel will take place on 5 November at Het Huis Utrecht and will start at 3 pm. Buy your tickets here!
The picture accompanying this article was taken by Ohm Phanphiroj
On August 25, it was announced that ‘Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid’ has been nominated for the VSCD Mime Prize. The other nominees are Urland, Boogaerdt/VanderSchoot, Nicole Beutler Projects and Davy Pieters. The winner will be announced on 11 September during the Gala van het Nederlands Theater in ITA.
The jury about the work: “In this multidisciplinary diptych on capitalist globalisation, Verhoeven shows how the individual mind of workers from low-wage countries can triumph over their exploited bodies. The old-Dutch, socialist protest song that ten Bulgarian seasonal workers sing for eight hours in a distribution centre taken over by robots is a dreamy protest against their interchangeability. In an art institution in The Hague, where the performers lived for three months, a layered documentary and a mimographic three-panel video intimately brought their rich inner world close.”
Happiness is on tour. Our humanoid travels through Europe: to France, Estonia, Germany and Norway. And she will also be back in the Netherlands in August. After the first stop at the Ruhrfestspiele in Recklinghausen (DE), Happiness travels to Chalon dans la rue in Chalon-sur-Saône (FR), MU in Eindhoven (NL), SAAL Biennaal in Tallinn (EST), CTM Festival in Berlin (DE), Figuren Theater Festival in Erlangen (DE) and Black Box teater in Oslo (NO).
After almost two months of travelling along the Dutch theatres, we conclude the tour of ‘Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid’ with extra performances in the exhibition space of Het Hem, the old bullet factory in Zaandam. For three days, eight hours a day, you have a chance to see the performance. And while you are there, you can also pay a visit to Chapter 4our, the exhibition of Simon(e) van Saarloos. For Amsterdammers: With nice weather you cycle through the western port area to the Hempontplein. You can also take the Zaan ferry (at 14:00 and 18:00 hrs from Amsterdam C.S.). For tickets check here >
After the performances in Het Hem, the performers travel back to Bulgaria. Their residence and the accompanying exhibition can still be seen in West Den Haag until 15 August.
In addition to the weekend of 5 and 6 June Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid (Brothers exalt thee to freedom) can be visited also on Monday 7 June in ITA, Amsterdam. You can choose a time slot between 14:00 and 22:00 hrs. There is a limited number of tickets per time slot, so you have all the space you need during your visit. More info and tickets at ita.nl
In the coming months, we will be travelling around the Netherlands with ‘Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid’. After weeks of moving up and changing dates and against all odds, we will premiere on 20 May at SPRING Performing Arts Festival Utrecht. For more information about tickets, corona measures during SPRING and tests for admission please see the SPRING festival website. In Utrecht, the Jaarbeurs is the test location closest to the Stadsschouwburg. If you live in Amsterdam, the Weesperstraat location is the most central. You can see which test location is closest to you at www.testenvoortoegang.org. An admission test is free of charge.
The exhibition at West Den Haag is also ready to receive visitors, but we need to have a bit more patience before we can open the doors. Of course we will do so at the earliest opportunity and look forward to welcoming you very much. For information about West Den Haag see here.
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 theatre 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 theatres every day for eight hours. Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid will premiere at the end of 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 labor Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid asks questions about the future of work and resistance. What is our working body for today? 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 theatres: 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.