Hedwig Houben’s performance-based works consider the complex relations between objects and their makers, looking to deconstruct the identities of both. Can you really tell something about an individual persona through something that they have made? To what extent do our relations to objects play a role in the formation of selfhood? Can an object also have a biography? Considering notions of identity formation from more phenomenological and psychoanalytical perspectives, her videos document performances that often present the artist talking from the perspective of the third person in narrative dialogue with herself the artist and the sculptures she has made. Often this dialogue happens whilst she is even in the process of making or transforming the object. This ‘relational’ understanding between each – the narrator, the artist and the object – becomes the subject of the work, opening up ideas for identities beyond the traditional hermetic biography of a person.




This work comprises a video and a selection of objects. It is a work documenting a conversation between a self-portrait sculpture, a Rietveld chair and the artist. The two objects and the artist search for a possible way to create a meaningful picture together. Doubts, beliefs and concepts are discussed and interrogated from different perspectives in their dialogue towards the attempt to make the picture. The video is displayed in a sculptural combination with the chair and the self-portrait sculpture.




The Hand, the Eye and It documents the performance lecture the artist made as part of the major conference at M HKA on 14 June. In the talk, a plasticine replica of the artist’s own hand takes on the role of the mediator in a collaboration between the performer, the creator’s eye, and the elusive ‘it’ – the thing that wants to be made, which is present here as an amorphous flesh coloured plasticine object. Describing the complex relations at play, Houben foregrounds the way the various elements take on both literal and symbolic roles, the lines between subject and object, performer and creator, hand and eye.




Retrospective Act is a sculpture produced by kneading the used plasticine from all of Houben’s previous works into a large ball. The sculpture grows as the artist produces more works for performances, and could be considered as a sort of performative archive of Houben’s practice. (NH)

Artist Website

Hedwig houben   personalmatters and matter of fact

Hedwig Houben, PERSONAL MATTERS AND MATTER OF FACT, 2011 (video still), photo: Hedwig Houben

Hedwig houben   the hand the eye and it

Hedwig Houben, THE HAND, THE EYE AND IT, 2013 (video still), photo: Hedwig Houben