Copyright 2012


Guido van der Werve

Soundtrack from Nummer twaalf, variations on a theme: the king’s gambit accepted, the numbers of the stars in the sky and why a piano cannot be tuned or waiting for an earthquake, 31'16'', 2009




Since the seventies, the King's Gambit - a notorious opening move in chess - hasn't been played anymore. With this move, that is both risky and provocative and leaves the King exposed on the board, the Russian worldchampion Boris Spassky defied his American challenger Bobby Fischer, who, according to legend, left the stage in tears.



Guido van der Werve, Nummer twaalf, 2009, courtesy of Monitor Gallery, Rome.


In Guido van der Werve’s films the memory of the art of the past, embodied in the concept of the “Romantic Sublime,” revives in a challenge with the present, which constantly renews itself. Nummer twaalf, variations on a theme: the king’s gambit accepted, the numbers of the stars in the sky and why a piano cannot be tuned or waiting for an earthquake (2009), presented for the first time in Italy by Galleria Monitor in Rome, conducts the audience in even more daring spheres of knowledge.

The acts are tangible but destined to remain unresolved: Composing a concert for chess and piano in A minor on a piano-chessboard of his invention, researching the perfect tune on a piano and, finally, embarking on the impossible challenge of counting the stars. The meditative, slow rythmed musical score, subdivided into three movements, opens with the artist engaged in a chess game at the renowned Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan, attended by Duchamp himself during his stay in New York. Then, in the second and third movements, the film moves through natural, boundless landscapes, made even grander by the aerial shots, while the artist’s slight figure progressively walks away.

The alternation of close-ups and long shots renews a double distance that creates a unique and unrepeatable vision. For the artist, using images means working on emotions, enhanced by experimental combinations between apparently distant fields and made tangible in the performance that opened the exhibition, during which he played his piano-chessboard, accompanied by a violin orchestra. It is a way of metaphorically summarizing the meaning of every work of art — contributing to the renewal of its language and to the invention of new thought.

Maria Rosa Sossai
(Translated from Italian by Jacopo Penzo. Originally published on Flash Art International 269)

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