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, including in 2014 the public choice award as well as the 2nd jury prize in AVRO’s national photo contest for self-portraits. Again in 2017 Lilith won the public choice award and entered the jury’s top three in AVROTROS’ national art contest ‘Krabbé zoekt Picasso’. Her work is included in numerous private and public collections including those of the Van Bommel van Dam museum (Venlo Netherlands), museum Ikob (Eupen Belgium), Limburgs Museum (Venlo Netherlands), Gemeentemuseum Jacob van Horne (Weert Netherlands), CODA museum (Apeldoorn Netherlands) Generali Insurance Company (Diemen Netherlands), Atrium Hospital (Heerlen Netherlands), Eduard Planting Fine Art Photographs (Amsterdam Netherlands) and the Torch Gallery (Amsterdam Netherlands). In 2013, a book was published providing an overview of her self-portraits from 2006 till 2013, entitled, ‘A house is not a home’. In 2015 she collaborated with writer Paul Sterk which resulted in a book as well exhibition ‘Over hoeren & madonna’s‘. In 2017 yet another book was published: ‘Skinny dipping‘. Over 1.000 self-portraits taken in the tub, using a cell phone, showing Lilith’s metamorphosis during two years.
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.
Her portraits, especially those of religious themes, have met with some controversy. Her self-portrait “Father, forgive me for….” was removed from an exhibition held in a former seminary in 2011. That portrait was later published on the front page of a national newspaper, Sp!ts, which deplored censorship and restraints placed on artistic expression.
In 2012, Lilith made a photo documentary about Risja, a young woman suffering from Lyme disease. In an honest and realistic manner, the pictures capture Risja’s beauty, her power and bravery, but also her moments of pain and sorrow. The photos have been compiled in a book (´Risja, a story by Lilith´) which was released with a traveling exhibition in 2012. The benefits from the sale of the book are being provided to a new foundation, Stichting TeekOnMe, which supports research in the field of Lyme disease.
Lilith’s home has served as the backdrop for the majority of her photographs. In 2012, for the series: “A house is not a home”, Lilith invited home owners throughout the Netherlands to open their homes to her to use as settings for a series of self-portraits. Dozens of people invited Lilith to use their homes. In these borrowed homes, she was able to work, in complete privacy, to combine her portraiture with a vision of home in the houses of friends and strangers.
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.
People are vulnerable. They can be wounded, severely, and this is frightening. With globalization and the online revolution, our whole world can be exposed to those with evil intentions. At the same time, goodness and kindness are spreading like never before.
To me as an artist, this innate vulnerability of mankind represents the ultimate form of goodness. My art, every single self-portrait, is a form of expedition, taken one step at a time, to discover the very contours of this inner vulnerability. In this way, through my photography, I am able to rediscover and rekindle my faith in humanity.