Henriëtte van Gasteren, better known by her pseudonym, Lilith, was born in 1964 in Sevenum, the Netherlands. She is a photographic artist, who has been widely exhibited, throughout the Netherlands and abroad. Since 2008, more than thirty exhibitions of her work have been held in the Netherlands while special exhibitions were also mounted in Antwerp, Brussel, Gent, Eupen, Aachen, Dresden, Mönchengladbach, Birmingham, New York and Vermont. Her work has also been displayed at several of Europe’s leading photo fairs and art festivals.
Lilith’s work has received critical and public acclaim. She has won several national and international photography awards, Lilith uses self-portraits to provide a commentary on the image of women today. Recurring themes in her work include identity, gender roles, freedom, equality, religion and the positive and negative aspects of human experience. Her work is sometimes humorous, often sensual, frequently confrontational, and always original and insightful.
In 2017 CODA Museum Apeldoorn (The Netherlands) organized a mid-career exhibition of her work showing self-portraits from the series ‘A house is not a home’, ‘Bit player’ (Just as a house can tell who we are, so can a circle of friends. And in this series it is the circle of friends who adds an additional dimension to the stories that Lilith brings to life. It’s all about identity.), ‘Woman is the pig of the world’ and ‘Skinny dipping’ (entirely photographed using her cell phone in the tub). Also her song/video ‘Independent mind’ was shown amongst four video art works.
Lilith currently resides and works in the Netherlands.
Henriëtte van Gasteren / Lilith
Lilith’s work is sure to invite controversy, and often out of this controversy, new directions for her creativity appear. In 2013, for example, a catholic priest reviewed one of Lilith’s exhibitions and wrote in the parochial papers:
‘To consider Lilith’s work as art, one has to lack something in the brain and be visually impaired.’
Lilith invited him to view her work together and to start a dialogue about the stories she was trying to tell. He accepted and after some time she asked him to participate in a self-portrait to show that dialogue can lead two very different worlds to create something beautiful. After a few months of hesitation, he agreed. This self-portrait (taken in his church) was the start of a new series called ‘Bit player’ in which Lilith is portraying her relatives, friends and acquaintances in her stories. In these self-portraits, others play the leading role while Lilith plays a supporting role. The self-portraits are about them, their jobs, their hobbies, their environment and the life they lead. Her working method hasn’t changed. She still uses a camera, tripod and remote control.
Just as a house can tell who we are, so can a circle of friends. And in this new series ‘Bit player’, it is the circle of friends who adds an additional dimension to the stories that Lilith brings to life. It’s all about identity. Are we born with it or are we a product of our environment, of society, of our family, friends and enemy’s? It’s also a question about freedom. Are we ever truly free or do we (automatically) adapt?
Once again, while her photography is changing and evolving, it’s wit, insight and humanism make it unmistakably ´Lilith´.