Lilith Love is the pseudonym of Henriëtte Johanna Ignatia Maria van Gasteren, a Dutch photographer and artist, known for her, sometimes controversial, self-portraits.
Lilith Love is a storyteller with a passion for photography. Since 2006, Lilith Love self-portraits have been telling us her stories. The recurring themes have been women, identity, female archetypes, gender bending and of course, life itself. But above all freedom and equality.
What does photography mean to you?
It means the world to me.
How long have you worked as a photographer?
About 6 years.
How do you prepare for a photo shoot?
I always work from my emotions, photographing myself, how I’m feeling that day. With full concentration, I do a little make up, visualize and search for/or create a background, create a little lighting (or not), think about clothes (or not), sometimes set up props. Then again, a little make up, some household stuff like emptying the dishwasher in between, a little lighting, etc.etc. The process is a mix of activities in no specific order. Then I start shooting and it feels like dancing to me. Being able to tell a story, to express my feelings, using my body language. Being alone while working is very important to me.
What is your favorite image you have shot recently?
I don’t have real favorites, because I see my work as an undivided whole. It’s my life, my diary, with beautiful and less beautiful days. Of course, on some occasions, I am more satisfied about a certain self-portrait than at another. But sometimes a self-portrait has to grow on a person to be appreciated. It’s a matter of time. This can work the other way round as well.
What are you working on right now? Any future plans?
Two projects. They have the theme of vulnerability in common.
For me as an artist, vulnerability represents the ultimate goodness. My art, every single self-portrait, is a reconnoitering expedition to discover maximum delicacy carried by a human being. Every image is a step forward. Through my photography I rediscover faith in humanity.
The first project is ‘Lilith in da House’. Self-portraits in strangers’ houses.
The time for change had come. For my latest series of self-portraits home owners unknown to me have offered their houses as sets. After I contacted the newspapers, dozens of house owners offered their homes for my new self-portraits. I visited the houses, often without the presence of the owner, their faith in me shown by giving me their house keys and carte blanche to use the rooms as I wished.
In both my life and my work I communicate with the things discovered around me, so in these new and strange sites the artistic possibilities explode with sometimes surprising results. My photography changes but still remains unmistakably ‘Lilith’. This is a project which I hope to extend even further by traveling abroad to use homes.
The exhibition ‘Lilith in da House’ at the Eduard Planting Gallery in Amsterdam ended few days ago. (October 20th 2012).
The second project is ‘Risja, a story by Lilith’.
At the beginning of 2012 Risja Steeghs contacted me. She and I started on a unique art project. (It proved to be the start of the foundation TeekOnMe.) The young Risja seems to have found herself playing a role in a surrealistic film. For the last few years she has been confined to bed with Lyme disease. She depends almost entirely on her parents’ care. A single tick bite has deprived her of most of her independence.
Girl-Power and Happiness form the plot of Risja’s story, a tragic film? Absolutely not! In spite of her misfortune Risja is more positive in her – sick – body than many others. She has a great affection for those around her and has a great love of art. Whenever her disability permits, she creates works of art. And she dares to hope that one day she will get better.
There will be an exhibition as well as a photo art book, both with the same title: ‘Risja, a story by Lilith’. The intriguing (model) portraits and (documentary) photographs taken by Lilith are complemented by collages and works of art done by Risja. On November 25th, the first exhibition will open at “Het Huis voor de Kunsten Limburg” in Roermond (NL), before the start of a tour. The book presentation will take place on December 7th by Mrs Drs Hedy d’Ancona (who also has written a text for the book) at the Outsider Art Gallery, Amsterdam (NL).
Risja and I have one aim in mind: to draw attention to Lyme disease and to gather ways and means to enable research, which in turn can result in the improvement of methods for treating Lyme disease through international cooperation between doctors and scientists. Art is the vehicle of this ambition.
If not a photographer, what would you have been?
Many options here. My camera is my tool to tell my tales. I bumped into photography by accident. It could have been some other art form as well. As long as it assists me in expressing myself and making people think about things in life which often seem very logical but as often aren’t.
More info about Lilith Love can be found on her website: www.lilithlove.eu
Interview by: Monyart