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A house is not a home – Self-portraits in strangers’ houses.

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 work has been exhibited widely throughout Europe and the Netherlands, and has been shown in the US for the first time in 2012.

Through her carefully orchestrated self-portraits Lilith presents an ironic and spellbindingly stylish commentary on the image of women today. With “performances” falling somewhere between the real and apparent, her alter egos hold up a dead sharp mirror in front of women and men – calling out society’s ancient convictions. At times literally laying herself, and not just her cards, on the proverbial table, she aims to discover and expose the maximum delicacy within any human being.
Lilith creates 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.

 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.  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 exploded with sometimes surprising results. Her photography changes but still remains unmistakably ‘Lilith’.

My work is meant to make people think about things in life which shouldn’t always be taken for granted. E.g. the division of roles within families, (homo)sexuality, religion, abuse. I work from my feminitity, but have very good contact with all my different sides including my male one. Knowing oneself  thoroughly is important to be able to live a full life. Freedom and equality are very important to me and therefore in my work. Who can explain my thoughts and convictions better than I can? That’s why I create self-portraits. I know how to express my emotions, I know what I intend to depict. Often people don’t understand that I do everything by myself. It’s hard for me to work with other people around me, therefore I do everything by myself. Photographs aren’t just pictures to me. I believe the beauty of photography is that it can show all sides of a person. In my opinion a photograph is good when people react to it. Sometimes people react very strongly to my work either in a positive or a negative manner. I think that’s good. They are entitled to do that. As a matter of fact I am glad when they do . Some of my self-portraits got censored during exhibitons in The Netherlands and in Germany. Also on the internet. When I look at the pictures which were forbidden and those which were allowed I am still puzzled. I see no difference, do you understand? Censorship is based on what happens in people’s minds. It’s in the eyes of the beholder. And this is based on their background, on their own lives, on their own boundaries.  Children usually react very positively to my work, they see what I mean. They don’t get distracted by ‘the flesh’. I consider this a huge compliment. Children are pure, straight. For me it’s important to be free. Many people recognize this in my work and compliment me. They admire me for my courage. Why call it courage? Everyone should be free. It’s a necessity of life.”

A house is not a home
Lilith (A selection of 25 self-portraits)
from January 10 – March 9, 2014
Limburgs Museum Venlo
Keulsepoort 5
5911 BX Venlo
+0031 77 3522112
+0031 77 3548396
[email protected]

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