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´.
Woman is the pig of the world
Recently my heart was broken by a man. I felt cheap, humiliated, unequal. My mind and body are precious. I don’t give them away easily. It meant a lot to me. I asked him for an explanation. His excuse wasn’t satisfying. But how could he give a decent explanation running with the hare and hunt with the hounds? It must have been a moment of weakness.
I’d wish he wouldn’t have touched me. I hate him for that.
At the other hand I consider being able to weaken his knees without making any effort as a compliment. It’s just a matter of putting things into proper perspective.
My pain, sorrow and anger are the ingredients of this series of self-portraits called ‘Woman is the pig of the world’ (after John Lennon’s ‘Woman is the nigger of the world). Inspiration for these photos were: my bed in two pieces, broken relationships and that quickly passing guy.
I keep wondering: pigs eat everything and women swallow much, why are they doing this?
Both are clever. Okay, pigs need to feed themselves but women? Why do we swallow everything? Are we trying to make others happy meanwhile forgetting our own well-being? We should know better by now.
You know what? From now on I only swallow what I desire. Luckily I fancy much.
This series of self-portraits shows decay of flowers as well of the human body.
A house is not a home
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.”
It is tough to be square
Suddenly I suffered from bicipital bursitis on the right. I decided to start a series of self-portraits lifting stuff with my left hand. Initially it was meant for Instagram. Therefore the title: It’s tough to be square. Well, without Instagram for me it still is tough to be square.
Portraits of others color.
Portraits of others monochrome.
Portraits of students during a formal ball.