Dutch Art Photographer Henriëtte van Gasteren (Sevenum, 1964), using the artist name Lilith, is a storyteller with a passion for photography. Since 2006 her self-portraits have been telling her stories. Her recurring themes have been women, identity, female archetypes, gender bending and of course, life itself. But above all freedom and equality.
Lilith creates humorous, ironic self portraits around her own home. A house shows who we are and over 5 years Lilith shared her home with her audience. Every corner of the room appears in her extraordinary photography. A story in images about women, vulnerability, eroticism and much more.
In 2012 the time for change had come. For her latest series of self-portraits home owners unknown to her have offered their houses as sets. After she contacted the newspapers dozens of house owners offered their homes for her new self-portraits. Lilith visited the houses, often without the presence of the owner, their faith in her shown by giving her their house keys and carte blanche to use the rooms as she wished.
Lilith, in both her life and her work communicates with the things discovered around her so in these new and strange sites the artistic possibilities explode with sometimes surprising results. Her photography changed but still remained unmistakably ‘Lilith’.
Self-portraits showing my inner housewife
Self-portraits made with Nokia cell phone in the tub.
“I like to take a bath, back to the womb that encircled me. Back to the fetal stage where I could completely be myself. It was safe, when I did not know better. The hot water cherished me.
Each unexpected thing which comes my way is a test which I had not foreseen, despite my wandering thoughts about the future. The reality is larger than my imagination, but also far more cruel than my fears.
I put my head under water so I cannot breathe. Maybe I do not want to breathe anymore; it’s so much to take in. The fear, the sadness, the helplessness, it is all overwhelming, it presses on my chest, it presses on my mind. Some days it makes me feel so small and weak. A day later I start to scratch and crawl and become big and strong again.
Yet again I dive underwater. Try to hold my breath for as long as possible. Then the moment comes when I will be reborn. I am no longer connected to an umbilical cord. I need to breathe and live with my own strengths however difficult this can be for me. If it really does not work for me I take a bath. By myself, within the safe shelter of the womb. With fluttering thoughts until I find the courage to be born again. Until I have enough guts to live on… only then do I come out.”