Holier Than Thou, 2021 (video installation)

Holier Than Thou is a theatrical lament performed by a CGI character from behind a glory hole. The work examines a lost soul in search of sanctuary and aims to reflect on religion and portrays a need to be united in common fate. The installation depicts a middle-aged man that fights existential loneliness and draws a connection between a glory hole1 and a Catholic confessional (in both contexts, an anonymous yet vulnerable surrender towards another is conveyed). The character, who professes to be atheist, appears to critique 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. Despite his inability to believe, he hopes to fill an existential void through faith nonetheless.

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 - without any forced restrictions on one's freedom to live (and love) as one wishes.

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.

Dynamic CGI animation with sound, rendered in 3D software. Untreated steel, opaque and engraved plexiglass.

Installation: 145 x 81 x 50 cm
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.