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Mathilde Ter Heijne

Small things end, great things endure, 2002, c-prints on forex, 64 x 80 cm, edition of 5, 2 AP

Mathilde ter Heijne: Number One

Mathilde ter Heijne’s concern for topics of political violence and power-relationships within society and her related questioning of her role as an artist are central aspects of her oeuvre. In particular, the phenomena of victimisation, self-sacrifice and self–immolation, which condition our existence as political and private human beings, have been subject to her repeated investigation.

The exhibition ‘Number One’ closely relates to these issues. Her latest installation ‘Menschen Opfern’ (sacrifycing humans) confronts the visitor upon entry: five figures, all doubles of the artist herself, are grouped on a platform. The scenario of mutilated bodies bears connotations with ritualistic sacrifices of human beings as practised in Ancient Greece, or possibly a Greek theatre stage on which these rituals were ‘reenacted’ as tragedies.

In fact, the scene is based on the Greek tragedy ‘Iphigenia on Tauris’ by the dramatist Euripides (ca. 450 B.C.). Faced with the threat of being sacrificed by her father Agamemnon to appease the goddess Artemis, the character of Iphigenia has not only become a symbol of victimisation within a patriarchal society; as Iphigenia is rescued by Artemis herself to become one of her priestesses, she also personifies the emancipation from male dominance. Based on the composer Christoph Willibald Gluck‘s opera ‘Iphigénie en Tauride’ (1779), ter Heijne herself is recorded singing the chorus of Diana‘s priestesses, in which they ask for the goddess’ forgiveness.

The tension inherent in ter Heijne’s prominent use of the double, as already employed in earlier installations, such as ‘Mathilde, Mathilde…’ (2000) or ‘Suicide Bomb’ (2000), clearly reaches its climax in this work. The double does not only reveal the simultaneous identification with and rejection of the role of the victim, but also displays the fictitious character of the scenery. The artist’s failure of full identification and the shift of pain onto the double convey ter Heijne’s artistic strategy of self-questioning, not only in her role as an artist, but also in her social, political and private role as a woman.

Her video installation, ‘Small things end, great things endure’ (2001) likewise centres around the motif of victimisation and self-immolation. Once more, the heroine is based on a fictitious character: Gesine Cresspahl, the main protagonist of Uwe Johnsen‘s novel ‘Jahrestage’ (1934–84). While the novel tells the life story of Gesine’s mother, who – guilt ridden by the atrocities of the National Socialist Regime – decides to atone for this by burning herself, ter Heijne has modified the ending of the story: she projects the mother’s decision onto Gesine, who, facing the same unbearable feelings of guilt in the light of the Vietnam war during the 1960s, decides to set fire to herself at her home in Mecklenburg. In a loop, the video depicts the act of self-immolation, with the artist herself as Gesine Gresspahl. A female voice, from Magarethe von Trotta’s film version of the novel, cites the protagonist‘s quest for forgiveness, while a male voice recites a passage of Johnson’s book, passionlessly describing the detected scenery after Gesine’s death. In line with her earlier installation ‘For a better world’ (2000), dealing with the phenomenon of self-immolation as a political act, this work seems more intimate and less detached. Once more, her delegating the role of the victim – this time, onto a fictitious character – and exploring the issue of self-immolation as a moral and ideological act, reveals her quest for unravelling the complexity of power-relationships that condition our political and personal reality.

Born in 1969 in Strasbourg, France, Mathilde ter Heijne has studied at the City Academy in Maastricht and lives and works in Berlin. After various successful exhibitions in Europe and the US, she has recently had a solo show at the migros museum für gegenwartskunst in Zurich. ‘Number One’ is Mathilde ter Heijne’s second solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner

Mathilde Ter Heijne

1969 born in Strasburg, France

Lives and works in Berlin, Germany


1988-1992 City Academy, Maastricht
1992-1994 State Academy, Amsterdam


2004 Arbeitsstipendium (Senat Berlin), PS1 New York

2002 Saar-Ferngas-Förderpreis Junge Kunst, Ludwigshafen

2001 Mama Cash Kunstprijs, Amsterdam

2000 Arbeitsstipendium Senat Berlin

1999 Stipendium Podewill, Berlin

1998 Stipendium Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin

1992 Hustinxsprijs, Maastricht

Solo Exhibitions

2009 "Red, black, silver and white", Arndt & Partner, Berlin
"Uit het oog, maar niet uit het hart", Het Gebouw, Utrecht

2008 "Woman to go", 101 Projects , Reykjavik, Iceland

2007 Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles, CA
Currents, Beijing, China

2006 “No depression in heaven“, Arndt & Partner, Berlin
“Woman to go“, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin

2005 BASE 103, Sammlung Goetz, München
“Suicide bomb“, Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles, CA
“Forgetting”, Hospitalhof Stuttgart

2004 “Fuck Patriarchy!”, Viafarini, Milano
Kunstverein, Hannover

2003 “Qo akti? ”, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt am Main

2002 “Tragedy”, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich
“For a better world”, Kunstbank, Berlin
“Small things end, great things endure”, Art Unlimited auf der Art Basel
“Number One”, Galerie Arndt & Partner, Berlin

2000 Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt am Main
“Mathilde, Mathilde ... ”, Galerie Arndt & Partner, Berlin
“98 00”, Galerie de Expeditie, Amsterdam
“Suicide Bomb”, Förderkoje Art Cologne 2000, Köln

1999 “Indifference to the truth”, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin

1998 “On a night like this”, Galerie de Expeditie, Amsterdam
“Life inside storage”, Galerie Arndt & Partner, Berlin

1997 “Dutch courage”, Lasca Gallery, Los Angeles

1996 “Many true stories (Met Sam Samore)”, Berchkerk, Deventer
“Storage of imagination”, Het glazen huis, Amstelpark, Amsterdam
“Epos”, Perdu, Amsterdam

1995 “Haagmans, ter Heijne”, Galerie Ardi Poels, Maastricht
“Wherever I lay my head...”, Gemeentemuseum, Helmond
“Shadowshow”, W139, Amsterdam

1994 W139, Amsterdam
BEAM, Nijmegen

Group Exhibitions

2009 "Der Schmerz sitzt tief", Stiftung Opelvillen, Rüsselsheim

2008 "Von denen die Überleben", Schauspielhaus Zürich
"nach/sichten –film works from the Goetz Collection", Edith Russ Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg
“See history”, Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Kiel
„Female Trouble“, Pinakothek der Moderne, München
“Dealing with reality“, Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, Arnheim
“Small Things End, Great Things Endure”, New Langton Arts, San Francisco
„Lügen.nirgends - Zwischen Fiktion, Dokumentation und Wirklichkeit“, Ausstellungshalle zeitgenössische Kunst Münster
“Under Pain of Death”, Austrian Cultural Forum NYC, New York

2007 “Dealing with reality“, Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Arnhem
“Achtung Sprengarbeiten“, NGBK, Berlin
“An Archeology“, Zabludowicz collection project space 176, London
TALKING PICTURES. Text, Theatralität und Timing in der zeitgenössischen Kunst”, k21Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf
“Made in Germany”, Sprengel Museum Hannover, kestnergesellschaft, Kunstverein Hannover
“Schmerz”, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
“Berlin-Amsterdam”, Rijksakademie, Amsterdam
“Romantischer Konzeptualismus”, Kunsthalle Nürnberg
“Look@Me”, Institut für Kulturmanagement, Berlin
“Wir sind Paula”, Künstlerhäuser Worpswede
“Imagination Becomes Reality. Eine Ausstellung zum erweiterten Malereibegriff
Werke aus der Sammlung Goetz” ZKM Museum für Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe
10. Triennale Kleinplastik Fellbach
“An Archeology“, Zabludowicz collection, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art,

2006 The 4th Seoul International Media Art Biennal, South Korea
Shanghai Biennale Shanghai, China
“It's Time for Action (There's no Option)”, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich
“Ruby Satellite”, Hyde Park Center, Chicago, travels to Riverside Museum, Los Angeles
“Bremer Freiheit”, Künstlerhaus Bremen
“This is not a lovesong”, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, LA
“Urban Creatures”, Pori Art Museum, Pori, Finnland (curated by Dorothee Bienert)
“Le Mépris”, Mediamatic, Amsterdam
“Ruby Satellite”, Hyde Park Art Center Chicago, USA, travels to California Museum of Photography, Riverside, California
“Romantic conceptualism”, American Federation of Arts, New York
(curated by Jörg Heiser)
“Classification: alternative forms of knowledge”, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami

2005 “Figure it out”, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, New York, USA
“Cut”, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles, USA
“Realit;-)t.Von Olaf Breuning bis Sam Taylor-Wood. 30 Videoarbeiten aus der Sammlung Goetz in München”, Seedamm Kulturzentrum, Pfäffikon, Schweiz
“Die neue (Un)-Sicherheit? Taktiken der Ver(un)sicherung”, Badischer Kunstverein Karlsruhe
“Temporary Import”, Artforum Berlin
“Bremer Freiheit”, Künstlerhaus Bremen, Bremen
“Morir de amor”, MUCA (Museo Nacional de Ciencias y Artes), México City
“Getting rid of Madonna”, Kunsthaus Dresden
“A Greater New York”, PS1, New York
“Open Studio”, PS1, New York
“Wonder Woman”, FRAC Lorraine, Metz, France

2004 “Das Böse”, Guardini Galerie, Berlin
“Selbstporträt/Identität”, Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Hamburg
“Ingrid Calame, Mathilde ter Heijne, Jörg Wagner”, Kunstverein, Hannover
“Narcissus”, CRAC Alsace, France
“Slip Role”, Castlefields Gallery, Manchester
“Panic Room”, Schloss Ringendorf, Hamminkeln
“Innocence and Violence”, Arge Kunst Galerie Museum, Bolzano
“Laocoon devoured”, ARTIUM, Basque Centre of Contemporary Art, Victoria-Gasteiz
“L’air du Temps”, Migros museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich
“Silent screams”, Difficult dreams, Burusan Centre for Culture & Arts, Istanbul
“The Ten Commandments”, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden
“Duo Track”, Argos Institute, Brüssel, Belgien

2003 “M_ARS - Kunst und Krieg”, Neuen Galerie, Landesmuseum, Joanneum, Graz
“Turbulence. Contemporary Dutch artists”, Centre for Contemporary Art, Kiev
“Turbulence”. Museum voor moderne Kunst, Arnhem
“Taktiken des Ego”, Wilhelm Lehmbruch Museum, Duisburg
“Der Rest der Welt”, Neuffer am Park, Pirmasens
“Narcissus”, Centre Régional d'Art Contemporain Alsace
“Silent screams”, Difficult dreams, Galerie Arndt&Partner, Berlin
“Tekeningen”, Reuten Galerie, Amsterdam
“Love”, Magazin 4,Bregenzer Kunstverein

2002 “She knows”, Mama Cash, Rotterdam
“Collective Unconsioussness”, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich
“The Berlin Files”, Gallery de Chiara, New York
“Printemps de Septembre”, Les Jacobins, Toulouse
“Ter Heijne et Mathieu Pernot”, Espace Caviole, Cahors
“Junge Kunst”, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen
“Realities und histoire d’amour”, Kunstverein, Ulm

2001 “Get that Balance”, Kampnagel K3, Hamburg
“The Big Nothing”, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden
“Double Trouble”, Burusan Centre for Culture & Arts, Istanbul
“A Arte do Povo”, Central Electrico do Freixo, Porto
“Hemorrhaging of States”, TENT, Rotterdam
“The people's art”, Witte de With, Rotterdam
“Prodigal Prodigy”, White Box, New York
“Futureland”, Museum Abteilberg, Mönchengladbach, Museum Bommel van Dam, Venlo
“Teil von...?”, Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Wien
“I am someone else”, de Kapel, Amsterdam
“Neue Modelle”, Trafo, Budapest
“Hrillershow”, Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht

2000 “Samenscholing”, Bonnenfantenmuseum, Maastricht
“Glück & Casino”, Kunst Haus, Dresden
“Heimat Kunst”, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
“[RE: songlines] ”, Halle für Kunst, Lüneburg
“real/unreal perception”, Change Studio d'Arte Contemporana, Rom
“On the spot”, Work in progress, Bern
“Buren”, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven
“Vanessa Beecroft, Mathilde ter Heijne”, Gallery Mario Seguiera, Braga
“Viatico”, Home abroad e.V, Frankfurt am Main

1999 “City Pity”, DAAD Galerie, Berlin
“Come in and find out”, Vol 2, Podewil, Berlin
“Collectie altena/boswinkwel”, Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam
“Hirschhorn, ter Heijne, Leandowsky, Turcot”, Galerie Arndt & Partner, Berlin
“Buitenlandse ateliers”, Fonds BKVB, Amsterdam
“Subreal”, Inmo Gallery, Los Angeles
“City Pity”, Workhouse, Liverpool Biennale, Liverpool
“Alucinations”, B+D Gallery, Milano

1998 “Mutatis Mutandis”, Broerskerk, Zwolle
“One step forward”, Liste ‘98, Art Basel
“Plastische Ideen”, Galerie Martina Detterer, Frankfurt am Main
“Transparantie”, Oude Kerk, Amsterdam
“Mobil 2000”, Berlin Biennale, Berlin

1997 “Heb ik iets van je aan?”, Begane Grond, Utrecht
“PRIX NI”, Galerie Nouvelles Images, Den Haag
“Germinations 9”, Chateau de Bourglinster, Tutesall
“Camping”, Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen
“Eté ’97 ”, Centre Genevois de Gravure Contemporaine, Genève
“Hora est”, Stedelijk Museum, Sittard

1996 “Peiling”, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
“Germinations 9”, Villa Arson, Nice
“Collectie OCE”, Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht

1995 “Caravan Serail”, W139, Amsterdam
“La Valise du Célibataire”, Railway Station, Maastricht
“PrixNI”, Galerie Nouvelles Images, Den Haag
“Drawings”, Rijksacademie, Amsterdam
“Chosen”, Startstipendia, RAI, Amsterdam


Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich
Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht
NBK, Berlin


2008 If It’s me, it’s not me, Hantje Cantz (catalogue)

2007 The empire of women – Not a fairytale, Currents, Bejing (artist book)

2005 Sell the shadow to support the substance, Hospitalhof, Stuttgart (artist book)

2004 Mathilde ter Heijne, Viafarini, Milano (catalogue)
Ingrid Calamis, Mathilde ter Heijne, Jörg Wagner, Kunstverein Hannover (catalogue)

2002 Mathilde ter Heijne, Wilhelm Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen (catalogue)
Tragedy, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich (catalogue)

2001 For a better world, Griffelkunstvereinigung, Hamburg (CD-Rom)
Mathilde ter Heijne, Mama Cash, Amsterdam (catalogue)

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