News — 19 Jan 2018

The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is pleased to present Catherine Christer Hennix: Traversée du Fantasme, the first institutional solo exhibition in over 40 years of the Swedish composer, philosopher, poet, mathematician, and visual artist Catherine Christer Hennix.

This retrospective exhibition collects Hennix’s visual work, including a series of paintings, wall drawings and sculptures. The exhibition is set across two rooms, loosely configured in the form of an analyst’s office and waiting room. While Hennix is most well-known as a composer for her sound environments, she has also maintained a practice as a visual artist, drawing on a wide range of references touching on logic, intuitive mathematics, modal music, and psychoanalysis. Her work plays with the transmission of meaning through the use of a highly formalized and at times inscrutable personal language.

Catherine Christer Hennix, C- Algebra w Undecidable Word Problem, 1975-1991, acrylic paint on canvas, 195 x 270.5 x 5.5 cm
Catherine Christer Hennix, C- Algebra w Undecidable Word Problem, 1975-1991, acrylic paint on canvas, 195 x 270.5 x 5.5 cm

For this exhibition, Hennix reconfigures her past works in light of today’s discussions around gender nonconformity. The public restroom, which are most often divided into binary male or female gender designations, has become an unlikely, almost absurd focus point in discussions about gender and trans rights. Hennix’s work takes on new meaning contextualized by the proliferation of ‘bathroom bills’ in the United States, which seek to ban trans individuals from using a restroom of the gender with which they identify. Hennix refers to this enduring prejudice as ‘urinary discrimination’ in her own nomenclature.

Traversée du Fantasme looks back at a partially realized body of work that was first initiated with her partner Lena Tuzzolino in the 1990s. Together they attempted to create a series of performances and installations based on each of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan’s seminars. The exhibition takes its starting point from a suite of paintings Hennix created for the 1991 group show at Museum Fodor, Parler Femme, in which Hennix recast four color and black and white painted math equations inspired by Lacan’s infamous formalization of sexual difference.

About Catherine Christer Hennix

In the 1960s and 70s, sound art pioneer Catherine Christer Hennix frequently worked with the American anti-art philosopher, composer and violinist Henry Flynt. Hennix also found inspiration in Japanese Gagaku music and the early vocal music of late-Middle Ages composers Perotinus and Leoninus. Hennix is professor of Mathematics and Computer Science. In 2000, she was given the Centenary Prize Fellow Award by the Clay Mathematics Institute for her collaboration with the Russian-American poet and mathematician Alexander Esenin-Volpin.

World Premiere

On 16 and 17 February 2018 Blue(s) in Green to the 31 Limit, a new work by Catherine Christer Hennix, will premiere with two performances as part of the Sonic Acts Academy at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam Teijin Auditorium. This new work, performed with Benjamin Duboc, Rozemarie Heggen, Hilary Jeffery, and Marcus Pal, elaborates on concepts of space—specifically attempting to halt our experience of space-based phenomena—and continues the musician’s ongoing experiments in micro-tonality, just intonation and the space of sound. On February 18th, Marcus Boon will discuss Hennix’s work in a symposium at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam Teijin Auditorium.

Traversée du Fantasme is curated by Karen Archey, Curator of Contemporary Art and Time-based Media at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Lawrence Kumpf, Artistic Director of Blank Forms, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting emerging and underrepresented artists working in time-based media.

In 2017 the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Sonic Acts initiated a long-term research trajectory dedicated to the lesser-known pioneers of sound art. The first stage of this collaboration activated the archives of American composer and sound artist Maryanne Amacher (1938-2009). The performance Blue(s) in Green to the 31 Limit and the exhibition Catherine Christer Hennix: Traversée du Fantasme are organised by Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in collaboration with Sonic Acts as part of their collaborative mission to diversify the canon of sound art.

This exhibition is generously supported by Empty Gallery, Hong Kong.

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