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The Davis Museum at Wellesley College presents "Guido van der Werve, Nummer veertien, home"
Guido van der Werve, Nummer veertien, home. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.

WELLESLEY, MASS.- The Davis presents Nummer veertien, home, Dutch artist Guido van der Werve's haunting, poetic film that interweaves the tales of Alexander the Great, the life and death of Frédéric Chopin, and the artist’s own personal odyssey. The exhibition will be on view March 12 through July 20 in the Joan Levine Freedman ’57 and Richard I. Freedman Gallery and is free and open to the general public.

When Chopin died in Paris, his sister vowed to fulfill the composer’s wish of bringing his heart back to his native land of Poland; she succeeded in smuggling his heart out of France and carried it to Warsaw where it was interred in the Church of the Holy Cross. For Nummer veertien, home, the artist completed a grueling 1,000-mile triathlon (swimming, biking, and running) from Warsaw to Paris – seven times the length of the Ironman Triathlon – retracing the path along which Chopin travelled to Paris and along which only his heart returned.

Van der Werve, a classically trained concert pianist, also composed the film’s lush score - a romantic twelve-movement classical requiem that is played in situ at various locations en route. Nummer veertien, home explores themes common to van der Werve’s work: physical and emotional endurance, man’s struggle with nature, virtuosic performance, the intersection between history and geography, melancholy and the solitary.

According to Michael Maizels, Andrew W. Mellon New Media Curator/Lecturer and curator of the exhibition, “Evocative of the grand traditions of Classical composition and Romantic landscape painting, Nummer veetien, home offers an extended meditation on the nostalgia for origins. While Alexander the Great and Frédéric Chopin were never able to return from their wandering van der Werve travels in their footsteps, recounting their journeys and recording the charged landscapes through which they traveled. Although the film ends on an optimistic note – with the artist returning a silver cup full of Polish soil to Chopin’s grave in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris – the melancholic mood of the piece speaks to the deep impossibility of such returns, of ever truly coming back home.”

“Nummer veetien, home is mesmerizing, lyrical, and a little bit cryptic as the artist confronts forces of nature and culture with an almost superhuman strength of will,” added Lisa Fischman, Ruth Gordon Shapiro '37 Director of the Davis. “I am thrilled that Mike’s first exhibition during his tenure as our Mellon New Media Curator brings Guido van der Werve’s ambitious work to the Davis.”

Guido van der Werve was born in Papendrecht, the Netherlands in 1977 and currently lives and works in Finland, Amsterdam and Berlin. Van der Werve pursued studies in industrial design, archaeology, music composition, and Russian language and literature at several universities in the Netherlands before beginning to create his first video documented performances around 2000. Since that time he has created a variety of works, including films, videos, and artist’s books in chronological order from two to fifteen.

He has become internationally renowned for his video works numbered in sequence of production. His rapidly growing oeuvre of satirical yet deadpan videos, in which he often plays the protagonist, investigates such themes as melancholy and alienation. Van der Werve often composes the music that accompanies his films.

Recent showings of his work include solo exhibitions at the MOMA PS1, New York; the High Line, New York; the Giuliani Foundation, Rome; the Stedeliijk Museum, Amsterdam; and de Hallen Haarlem in the Netherlands. Van der Werve’s Nummer veertien, home, won the 2013 Golden Calf Award in Amsterdam for Best Short Film.

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