Holier Than Thou, 2021 (video installation)

Holier Than Thou is a theatrical lament, born of regret and loneliness. Performed from behind a glory hole, the video installation examines a lost soul in search of sanctuary and aims to portray an existential desire to fill voids as well as a need to be united in common fate.

The installation draws a connection between a glory hole1 and a Catholic confessional. In both situations, an anonymous yet vulnerable surrender is conveyed. The work is composed of fragments of text that are performed by a nameless character. The character confesses about his shortcomings and appears to criticise the concept of religion, i.e., Christianity, while it slowly becomes clear that perhaps that what he criticises could also contain exactly what he so desperately longs for.

During the pandemic, Daan Couzijn became increasingly interested in the notion of the church and its function and meaning. The word “church” is translated from the Greek word ekklesia which simply means: “people assembled”. In a biblical context, ekklesia refers to the Lord’s people (who are His body) and bears surprisingly little connotation of an earthy building, temple or shrine in which people gather.

Today, Daan Couzijn feels there are few alternative yet similar places where one can come together in order to listen, to share, to confess, to reflect and to ask for forgiveness. To engage in a broad variety of legends, myths and sacred narratives that offer insights and bring about a sense of belonging and fellowship - while rejecting an obliged belief in a deity and enforced restrictions on the liberty to live (and love) as one pleases.

In Holier Than Thou, Daan Couzijn aims to depict a familiar quest for solidarity to challenge a fear caused by a reluctance to comprehend. In doing so, he hopes to manifest a valuable perspective that he feels is often overshadowed in the discourse on religion.

145 x 81 x 50 cm.
Dynamic CGI animation with sound, rendered in 3D software. Untreated steel, opaque and engraved plexiglass.

Duration: 6 min. (loop)

Commissioned and acquired by Museum van Bommel van Dam for the museum’s permanent collection.

1 A glory hole (also spelled gloryhole and glory-hole) is a hole in a wall or partition, often between public lavatory cubicles or adult video arcade booths and lounges, for people to engage in sexual activity or observe the person in the next cubicle while one or both parties masturbate.

Glory holes are especially associated with gay male culture, and anal or oral sex, and come from a history of persecution. The partition maintains anonymity and a sense of reassurance that the people involved would not be identified and possibly harassed or even arrested.