Works

Brothers exalt thee to freedom

In a robotised distribution center, ten Bulgarian performers, who have experience as labour migrants, sing a historic labour song for eight hours long. Their work breaks are derived from those at e-commerce company Amazon. By juxtaposing robotics and singing, the performance questions the value of the working body, the labour movement and the legacy of socialism in times of automatisation. Audience members can attend the performance for as long as they wish.
An exhibition exposes a.o. the living quarters of the performers and objets trouvés from various work floors. The video work ‘To perform’ and the documentary film ‘The recruitment’ (about the creation of the work) reveal the performers’ views on the performance and the politics of labour.

In a robotised distribution center, ten Bulgarian performers, who have experience as labour migrants, sing a historic labour song for eight hours long. Their work breaks are derived from those at e-commerce company Amazon. By juxtaposing robotics and singing, the performance questions the value of the working body, the labour movement and the legacy of socialism in times of automatisation. Audience members can attend the performance for as long as they wish.
An exhibition exposes a.o. the living quarters of the performers and objets trouvés from various work floors. The video work ‘To perform’ and the documentary film ‘The recruitment’ (about the creation of the work) reveal the performers’ views on the performance and the politics of labour.

Video

Trailer of the performance

Impression of the performance, exhibition and video works

Press

"As always, Verhoeven manages to attract the attention of his spectators with a seemingly simple and effective image. The beauty of all his work is that he brings big, complicated themes back to its essence. On the one hand, it is confrontational, but it also shows compassion for its subject."

Vincent Kouters in de VolkskrantRead the review (in Dutch)

"Welcome to the global economy." - "The beauty of the singing robot ballet lingers in my mind. [...] The scenes keep beckoning like sirens."

For Theaterkrant Fransien van der Putt visited the work during SPRING and the exhibition in West Den Haag.Read the review (in Dutch)

"You can stay as long as you want, and with that Verhoeven immediately confronts you with a dilemma: when do you stop looking, when you are face to face with these people, who have to complete eight hours a day?"

Sander Janssens in NRCRead the review (in Dutch)

"As is often the case with a repetitive work of art, the duration forces the viewer towards a certain surrender, and a sharpened perception. The loop that holds the Bulgarians captive contains an intriguing composition: repeatedly the roar of the machines swells as the singers sing silently. Actually, there is a dreamy beauty in the installation."

Marijn van der Jagt in De Groene AmsterdammerRead the article (in Dutch)

"One by one, the performers share personal thoughts and anecdotes. Through their stories, I get to know the nuances of life on production floors."

Manuela Zammit visited the exhibition in West Den Haag for Metropolis MRead the article (in English)

"These days we stumble over our good intentions, they deprive us of looking at our own ambivalent actions. I don't really believe in setting an example anyway. I prefer to put my head on the chopping block; artwork succeeded, artist dies."

Alex de Vries visited the exhibition in West Den Haag for online contemporary art magazine Mister MotleyRead the article (in Dutch)

"I want to share the discomfort I experience in everyday life. Moments when I don't know what to do or what to make of something. I want to put that on a stage or in a museum."

Dries Verhoeven was a guest at Kunststof Radio. At the premiere live from Stadsschouwburg Utrecht in an interview with Gijs Groenteman.Listen to the podcast (in Dutch)

Nomination VSCD Mime Award

Brothers exalt thee to freedom was nominated for the VSCD Mime Award 2020 and 2021.

The jury about the work:
“With his multidisciplinary diptych ‘Brothers exalt thee to freedom’ about capitalist globalisation, Dries Verhoeven shows how the individual spirit of workers from low-wage countries can triumph over their exploited bodies. The old Dutch, socialist 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, the performers’ home for three months, a layered documentary and a three-chanel mimographic video brought their rich inner world intimately close.”

Video works The Recruitment & To perform

There are two video works that are part of ‘Brothers exalt thee to freedom’. You can watch them on vimeo.

Watch the three-channel video work ‘To perform’

Watch the documentary ‘The recruitment’

You need a password to watch ‘The recruitment’. Just send a request to pr@driesverhoeven.com to receive it.

podcast and radio

After her visit to Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid, an emotional Hanneke Groenteman calls Gijs Groenteman and Teun van de Keuken. An excerpt from episode #28 of the podcast ‘Teun & Gijs vertellen alles’. (in Dutch)

 

Kunststof Radio
During the premiere on 20 May 2021 of Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid Dries Verhoeven was a guest in the radio programme Kunststof, live from Stadsschouwburg Utrecht. An interview with Gijs Groenteman about the backgrounds of the work and more.
Listen back to the interview on spotify > (in Dutch)

Credits

concept Dries Verhoeven
cast Irina Angelova, Rilka Charovna, Boryana Dzhivdzhanova, Petyo Gyudyulev, Blagovest Ilchevski, Kalin Kupenov, Miroslav Mihov, Valentina Panova, Valentin Stankov, Antonia Tochka
production Studio Dries Verhoeven
dramaturgy Hella Godee & Miguel Melgares
stage manager Niels Runderkamp
AGV robotics Tom Dalhuisen
programmer robotarms Casper Wortmann
programmer systems control Sylvain Vriens
sound design Peer Thielen, Rutger Verberkmoes
technical manager Roel Evenhuis
technique Marko Meijer, Niklas van Woerden
intern technical production Titus Duitshof
vocal coach Dimitar Arnaudov & Julia Scepanovic
casting & production Sofia, Bulgaria Christian Bakalov
set construction Maarten Smids, Niklas van Woerden, Merijn Versnel
video Wouter van Elderen

Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid is made possible with the support of Fonds Podiumkunsten, Gemeente Utrecht, Fonds 21, Cultuur Innovatiefonds Provincie Utrecht, VriendenLoterij Fonds and Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.