Henriëtte’s (Lilith’s) work often invites controversy, and out of this controversy, new directions for her creativity appear. In 2013, for example, a catholic priest reviewed one of Henriëtte’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.’
Henriëtte then invited this Priest 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 come together and create something beautiful. After hesitating for months he agreed.
This self-portrait (taken in his Church) was the start of a new series called ‘Bit player’ in which Henriëtte is portraying her relatives, friends and acquaintances in her stories. In these self-portraits, others play the leading role while Henriëtte assumes a supporting role. These 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 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, or of our friends and enemies? The series also raises questions about freedom. Are we ever truly free or do we naturally adapt to the identity we are assigned?
Once again, while her photography is constantly changing and evolving, it’s wit, insight and humanism make it unmistakably ´Lilith´.
Will we become immortal?
Like plants and flowers, the human body withers with time. We throw away plants and flowers when they are not fresh anymore. What can we do with our body’s to prevent them from aging, because the body cannot be thrown away before we die. Can it be fixed?
Fine lines and wrinkles aren’t the only signs of aging. The aging process is nothing to shy away from but still it seems many people consider aging tob e a sickness. Many believe that signs of aging are ugly and they try to keep their body’s young and fit. Common methods for doing so include sports, vitamin pills, moisterizers, and plastic surgery.
But science marches on. How long will it take before editing genetic codes becomes a common method for turning back the hands of time? How long will it take before the body knows when to renew itself to make it possible for us human beings to live ‘forever’, or at least for a thousand years?
A house is not a home
In 2012, the time had come for a change. Henriëtte van Gasteren / Lilith experimented with changing locations for a series of self-portraits. After placing an ad in the local newspapers, dozens of home owners, most of whom were unknown to the artist, offered up their homes as sets for her self-portraits She then visited the houses for the shoots, with the owners giving her their house keys and carte blanche to use their house as she wished, usually without the presence of the owner.
Henriëtte, in both her life and in her work, actively engages with her environment. She searches for the new and the strange to unearth its artistic possibilities, sometimes with surprising results. These encounters have changed her photography but it still remains unmistakably ‘Lilith’.
Self-portraits showing my inner housewife.