Guido van der Werve
Palpable Futility

February 12, 2022 until May 29, 2022
Eye Filmmuseum

In the world of Guido van der Werve, Romanticism, nature and the sublime are never far away. His films explore the futility of existence, yet they also capture its endless beauty. This first retrospective exhibition of Van der Werve features a broad selection of his films as well as new work.

A vast expanse of ice with a solitary figure in the middle, trudging along as a huge icebreaker approaches. The short film Nummer acht by Guido van der Werve leaves an indelible impression. Over the past two decades, this artist has built up an impressive set of works.

Van der Werve often films his extreme physical exertions, in which he does battle with himself. He runs around his house for twelve hours without stopping, stands on the north pole for 24 hours while the earth revolves beneath his feet, and completes a 1700-kilometre triathlon – between the church in Warsaw where Chopin’s heart is buried and his official grave in Paris.

The films combine autobiographical elements with themes such as classical music, endurance sport, chess and nature. Trained as a classical pianist, Van der Werve composes the music for many of his films. His work, depicting a tiny figure surrounded by overwhelming nature, is often associated with Romanticism. But besides extremes and melancholy, the films are sprinkled with dry wit.

Van der Werve is currently working on a new film, Nummer achttien, prompted by his involvement in a serious traffic accident. Highly autobiographical, the film deals with, among other things, his difficult rehabilitation process. The exhibition also features new work taken from Nummer achttien.


Guido van der Werve – Palpable Futility

This extensive publication featuring texts about and images of all films by Guido van der Werve is published to coincide with the exhibition. Various authors approach the work from different perspectives. Barbara London, former MoMA curator and founder of the museum’s collection of video art, places it in an international art historical context. She acquired Van der Werve’s work for the MoMa. In addition to an interview and a literary contribution, the book includes essays about chess and the role of music, by Jaap Guldemond, Dirk van Weelden, Xander Karskens and Sara Crombach.

Edited by Marente Bloemheuvel. Published by Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam in collaboration with nai010 publishers, Rotterdam.

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