The 83-year-old Dutch artist herman de vries leads us to Lazzaretto Vecchio, an abandoned island in the Venetian lagoon, where he has installed a nearly hidden installation called natura mater. As de vries sits in the overgrown landscape, his sunhat shading his face but without diminishing his signature white beard, he recites a poem that reads something like a summation of his long life and pioneering conceptual oeuvre: “I see, I smell, I taste, I hear, I feel, I think, I eat, I drink, I breathe, I piss, I shit, I love, so, I am.” Educated as a biologist, and actively involved in the Zero movement of the 1960s, de vries’s body of work has since quietly traversed—and seamlessly converged—the fields of art, science, and philosophy. For natura mater, and its complementary exhibition in the Venice Biennale’s Dutch Pavilion, entitled “to be all ways to be,” de vries has gathered and rearranged natural and manmade objects as a reminder of life’s fundamentals: “You walk over the earth, and you don’t realize that you have colors under your feet,” the artist says.
Directed by Poppy de Villeneuve
Edited by Antonio Sanchez
Produced by Oscar Boyson
Director of Photography: Benjamin Thomas
Music by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans
Assistant Editor: Christina Mansi
Colorist: Gabriele Turchi
Post Producer: Margarita Mutuc
Sound: Milan Bardo Bergheim
Assistant Director: Moritz Elnrieder
“B” Camera Operator: Marküs Muller
Line Producer: Florian Freund
herman de vries, “to be all ways to be,” Dutch Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, 2015.
Courtesy of herman de vries and The Mondriaan Fund
Curated by Colin Huizing and Cees de Boer