Catherine Christer Hennix: Traversée du Fantasme

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

16 February—27 May 2018

Curated by Karen Archey

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.

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.


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.

Exhibition Link