Catherine Christer Hennix – Traversée du Fantasme

Stedelijk Museum

  • 16.02.2018. - 27.05.2018

Retrospective by the Swedish artist and composer.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is pleased to present Catherine Christer Hennix: Traversée du Fantasme, the first museum solo exhibition in over 40 years by the Swedish composer, philosopher, poet, mathematician, and visual artist Catherine Christer Hennix (1948).

While Catherine Christer Hennix is best known as a sound artist and composer, and for works including Illuminatory Sound Environments and Infinity Compositions, she has also produced a body of visual art that crosses the boundaries between painting, sculpture, and anti-art—what Hennix refers to in own personal nomenclature as Epistemic Art.


This exhibition spotlights Hennix’s Epistemic Art practice, including a series of paintings, wall drawings, and found objects—mostly made between 1974 and 2004—as well as a brand new sound work. Occupying two galleries loosely designed to resemble a psychoanalyst’s office and a waiting room, Hennix’s installation creates a concatenation of complex abstract thought, juxtaposing various fragments and formulations and leading the viewer through a model of self-illumination. Hennix’s work plays with the transmission of meaning, drawing on a wide range of references that touch on logic, intuitionistic mathematics, modal music, and psychoanalysis. Using an overtly obtuse and densely formalized personal language, Hennix forces the uninitiated viewer towards a state she terms homosemioesis—a subjective process of meaning-making that nullifies any possibility of a transfer of knowledge between the work of art and the viewer.


Traversée du Fantasme is a retrospective of a body of work only partially realized; the exhibition revisits and reimagines an unfinished project that Hennix undertook with her late partner Lena Tuzzolino, for which they produced a series of performances and installations based on each of Jacques Lacan’s seminars. The retrospective takes as its starting point a suite of paintings Hennix created for a 1991 group show at Museum Fodor, Parler Femme. In Parler Femme Hennix recast her Algebraic Aesthetics, a set of four-color and black-and-white mathematical equations that was originally conceived as a painted work on paper, flanked by two red and blue homotopies side panels—one of which included a recreation of Lacan’s schéma XX, the French psychoanalysts’ infamous formalization of sexual difference. Other elements of Algebraic Aesthetics include a set of paintings entitled Algebras w/ Domains also made in 1991, four variations of Hennix’s Ultra-Black Paintings from 1976, the 1996 wall text Fragments of Writings on the Unconscious, and a new set of found object “patients” named Encore & Encore, among other work.