Mathilde ter Heijne

Article Bio Works Projects Images Extra
body, catastrophe, identity, violence
Visual Arts (installation art, video art)
Europe, Western
Germany, Netherlands
Amsterdam, Berlin
created on:
May 9, 2003
last changed on:
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Mathilde ter Heijne


Looking back on one´s suicide

Born in Straßburg in 1969, Mathilde ter Heijne creates videos and installations showing a world full of conflict, unrest and violence. She uses excerpts from news’ bulletins and romantic films, which are alike in showing catastrophes.
Revolutionary manifestos from Cuba, declarations from the National Liberation Front FLN in Algeria, meetings with Securitate in Rumania, and Malcom X’s complaints about white men all mingled with dialogue from films about jealous love in the installation "1, 2, 3 ... 10 Wie niet weg is, is gezien." (2000) from Mathilde ter Heijne. This disaster occurred in the House of World Cultures at the end of the last millennium.

What have national, religious and racial conflicts to do with kisses and curses? Surely the former call for strategies of globalisation with an eye for economic and political factors, and the latter for cold showers and sexual therapy. Mathilde ter Hejne begins where the public and the private meet. Whether taken from news’ bulletins or love stories, her images bear witness to ongoing catastrophes.

Made in Korea, Made in Taiwan, Made in Spain, Handle with Care – these slogans stand on the cardboard boxes used for her installations since 1998. They might equally well be printed on uprooted and homesick migrants, moving from land to land, from culture to culture, since migrants too are moved by commercial interests, which have played an eminent role in Dutch history.

Sometimes the soundtracks of love films are heard in the confusion, as in "N.W.OWTG" (1999), and sometimes plastic lenses offer more insight, as in "Life inside Storage, Express Ltd.", (1998). The lenses in the latter installation revealed figures cut out of newspapers and hung on mobiles. Resembling figures in a children’s theatre, they included boys at play, women with toddlers and a lot of baggage, soldiers, hurt demonstrators, corpses and madmen. Such figures proliferate in the wake of national disasters.

For the CD-Rom "Indifferent to the truth" (1999) Mathilde ter Heijne filled storage rooms and other nooks and crannies with further migrants. But the click of a mouse conjured the pictures and societies up from which these alien figures had been removed, as if by a whim of fate. In "Poster" (2000) the cut-outs stood next to the images to which they had belonged. An irregular tunnel ate its way through a heap of paper like a wound from a shell. The violence of life was mirrored in the violence of art.

In the same year Mathilde ter Heijne made videos and installations with life-sized replicas of herself. The hands and faces were made from moulds of her own hands and face, and the buns of hair were likewise copies of hers. In films, such doubles tend to be seen at the nearing of death. One of them sat in a raincoat in a corner of Arndt & Partner, a gallery in Berlin, while her radio called out to male buyers: "Ne me quitte pas!" ("Don´t leave me!") Three French films, in which a love-affair had ended and a Mathilde had killed herself gave her the idea of splitting herself into pieces. In one of the films she subsequently showed, she had jumped from a bridge, as recalled in the video "Mathilde, Mathilde". But the video also reveals that a love-sick or plump person may find it hard to leap onto or over a balustrade. She may then not even be recognised in blurred action stills of the fall.

In Mathilde, Mathilde suicide is performed in effigy, to exorcise the ghoul of a man’s love. In a second installation, The chosen Ones (2000), two of Mathilde’s replicas watch themselves killing themselves on a cinema screen, as if to assess the acting’s quality and public appeal. In the video Suicide Bomb (2000), a replica is placed on a sports’ field then blown up by a couple of experts to a commentary about women in suicide bombings of the Tamil Tigers and the Kurdistan PKK. Self-destruction as a form of protest and martyrdom was also a theme of the work For a better World (2001), which was based on research into self-burning.

Mathilde ter Heijne has followed events, and events have followed her, as if she were running with terrorists neck to neck. But she is first and foremost an artist curious about curious deeds, though profiting from the thrill of terrible news.
Author: Kathrin Bettina Müller


Mathilde ter Heijne was born in Straßburg in 1969. She studied in Maastricht at the Stadsakademie from 1988 to 1992 then in Amsterdam at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten till 1994. In 1998 she came with a scholarship to the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin and has since worked in both Amsterdam and Berlin.


Group Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2005 "Imagination Becomes Reality, Part I., Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany "Realität“, Seedamm Kulturzentrum, Pfäffikon, Switzerland "Art Forum Berlin 2005“, Art Forum, Berlin, Germany "Bremer Freiheit“, Künstlerhaus, Bremen, Germany "Greater New York 2005“, P.S.1 MoMA, Long Island, USA "MADONNA“, Kunst Haus, Dresden, Germany "Laocoonte devorado. Arte y violencia política”, Domus Artium 2002, Salamanca, Spain "Wonder Woman”, 49 Nord 6 Est - Frac Lorraine, Metz, France 2004 "Das Böse“, Guardini Galerie, Berlin, Germany "Selbstportrait / Identität“, Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Hamburg, Germany "Ingrid Calame / Mathilde ter Heijne / Jörg Wagner“, Kunstverein Hannover, Hanover, Germany "Die Zehn Gebote“, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden, Germany "L´Air du Temps – collection printemps/été 2004“, Migros Museum, Zurich, Switzland "Duo Track“, Vlaams-Nederlands Huis, Brussels, Belgium "Narcissus / New visions on self-representation“, Crac Alsace - Centre rhénan d´art contemporain, Altkirch, France "Innocence & Violence“, Ar/ge Kunst Galerie Museum, Bolzano, Italy 2003 "Silent Screams Difficult Dreams", Galerie Arndt & Partner, Berlin, Germany "Love Magazin4“, Vorarlberger Kunstverein, Bregenz, Austria "Turbulence“, Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Arnheim, Netherlands "Taktiken des Ego“, Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, Germany "Der Rest der Welt“, Alexander Ochs Galleries, Berlin, Germany "M_ARS - Kunst und Krieg“, Neue Galerie, Graz, Austria "Captività“, BnD Studio Contemporanea, Milan, Italy "Realities and Histoires d´Amour“, Kunstverein Ulm, Ulm, Germany 2002 "The Collective Unconsciousness”, Migros Museum, Zurich, Switzland 2001 "I am Someone Else“, The Chapel, Amsterdam, Netherlands "Futureland“, Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany "Berlin – London“, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, Great Britain "Get that Balance“, Kampnagel, Hamburg, Germany "Double Trouble“, Borusan Centre for Culture & Arts, Istanbul, Turkey "The Big Nothing“, Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, Germany "Akt 1, Akt 2, Akt 3“, Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Austria "The Peoples Art / A Arte do Povo”, Witte de With, Rotterdam, Netherlands "Christmas Show”, Galerie Arndt & Partner, Berlin, Germany "Accrochage”, Galerie Arndt & Partner, Berlin, Germany 2000 "Samenscholing“, Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, Netherlands "Heimat Kunst“, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany "Real/Unreal Perception“, Studio d’Arte Contemporana, Rome, Italy "Buren“, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands "Neighbours“, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands "\re:songlines“, Halle für Kunst e.V., Lüneburg, Germany 1999 "Glück & Casino“, Kunst- und Medienzentrum Adlershof (KMZA), Berlin, Germany "17. Newsletter“, Galerie Arndt & Partner, Berlin, Germany "City Pity“, DAAD-Galerie, Berlin, Germany "Come in and Find Out, Volume 2“, Podewil, Berlin, Germany "Collectie Altena/Boswinkel“, Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam, Netherlands "Subreal“, Inmo Gallery, Los Angeles, USA "City Pity“, Workhouse, Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, Great Britain 1998 "Mutatis Mutandis“, Broerskerk, Zwolle, Netherlands "One Step Forward“, Liste 98, Basel, Switzerland "Plastische Ideen“, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt am Main, Germany "Transparantie“, Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, Netherlands 1997 "Heb ik iets van je aan?“, Begane Grond, Utrecht, Netherlands "Prix NI“, Galerie Nouvelles Images, The Hague, Netherlands "Eté 97“, Centre Genevois de Gravure Contemporaine, Geneva, Switzerland "Hora est“, Stedelijk Museum, Sittard, Netherlands 1996 "Peiling“, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands "Epos“, Perdu, Amsterdam, Netherlands "Germinations 9“, Villa Arson, Nice, France "Collectie OCE“, Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, Netherlands

Solo Exhibitions (Choice)

2005 "Mathilde ter Heijne - Expanded Paint Tools”, Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany "Suicide Bomb“, Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles, USA 2004 "Mathilde ter Heijne”, VIAFARINI, Milan, Italy 2002 "Mathilde ter Heijne – TRAGEDY“, Migros Museum, Zurich, Switzerland "Mathilde ter Heijne: Number One“, Galerie Arndt & Partner, Berlin, Germany 2000 "Mathilde ter Heijne“, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt am Main, Germany "Mathilde, Mathilde...“, Galerie Arndt & Partner, Berlin, Germany "89 – 98“, Galerie de Expeditie, Amsterdam, Netherlands 1999 "Indifference to the Truth“, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany 1998 "On a Night Like This“, Galerie de Expeditie, Amsterdam, Netherlands "Life Inside Storage“, The Lab, Galerie Arndt & Partner, Berlin, Germany 1997 "Dutch Courage“, Lasca Gallery, Los Angeles, USA 1996 "Many True Stories“, Berchkerk, Deventer, Netherlands "Storage of Imagination“, Het Glazen Huis, Amsterdam, Netherlands 1995 "Wherever I lay my head...“, Gemeentemuseum, Helmond, Netherlands


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

Homeland Art (HeimatKunst)

Cultural Diversity in Germany

(01 April 00 - 02 July 00)
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