Dutch Art Photographer Henriëtte van Gasteren (Sevenum, 1964), using the artist name Lilith, is a storyteller with a passion for photography. Since 2006, she has employed self-portraits to convey her stories. Her recurring themes have been women, identity, female archetypes, gender bending and life itself. Her work is imbibed with the spirit of freedom and equality.
Lilith creates humorous and often ironic self-portraits that are often staged in her own home. A home reflects who we are and during the past five years Lilith has repeatedly shared her home with her audience. Every corner of her home appears in her extraordinary litany of story-telling photography.
In 2012, Lilith's work moved in a new direction. For her latest series of self-portraits, home owners, who were unknown to her, offered their houses as sets. Responding to an ad in the local newspapers, dozens of house owners offered their homes for her as backdrops for her new self-portraits. Lilith visited these houses, without the owners being present, and was able to stage her portraits as she wished.
Lilith's work is constantly evolving as she discovers new lessons that life has to bring. Her work is sometimes shocking, often playful, occasionally erotic and invariably surprising. While her work has evolved over time, it bears the unmistakable 'Lilith' brand.
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´.