Luhring Augustine is pleased to announce the presentation of Dutch artist Guido van der Werve’s film Nummer twaalf. This exhibition is van der Werve’s first with Luhring Augustine.
Nummer twaalf revolves around three questions dealing with infinity, each explored in a separate scene: The King’s Gambit accepted, the number of stars in the sky and why a piano cannot be tuned or waiting for an earthquake. The film opens with a scene of the artist playing chess with Grandmaster Leonid Yudasin. The two men play on a unique chess-piano created by van der Werve and designed so that each of the 64 squares of the chess board simultaneously functions as a piano key. Yudasin composed a balanced game of chess that opens with the challenge of the King’s Gambit (one of the oldest documented chess openings), progresses to the opponent’s acceptance and ultimately ends in a draw stalemate. When played on the chess-piano, each move of the carefully-constructed match yields a note, and it is this series of notes which serves as the basis for van der Werve’s musical composition. The score continues throughout the film and follows the artist through vast landscapes as he ponders the impossible challenges of counting the stars in the sky and tuning a piano. Van der Werve’s futile pursuits juxtaposed with his choice of sites of latent danger (the active volcano Mount St. Helens and the San Andreas Fault in California), follows in the tradition of 19th century Romantic artist’s , using the epic of nature as an expression of the sublime.
Van der Werve was born in Papendrecht, the Netherlands in 1977 and currently lives and works in Finland. Recent exhibitions of his work include solo exhibitions at the Hayward Gallery in London, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, de Hallen Haarlem in the Netherlands and the Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland. As part of the recent Performa 09 festival, van der Werve performed Nummer twaalf live at the Marshall Chess Club in New York, where the scene in the film was shot and legends like Marcel Duchamp and Bobby Fisher were members.