Camille Henrot | Mother Tongue

Apr. 18 - Aug. 8, 2021

Malerei mit Schnabeltier mit Mensch, der an der Brust saugt
Camille Henrot, Eating tea (Deatil), 2019 , Courtesy the artist and König Galerie, Berlin/London/Seoul, Photo: Camille Henrot Studio

How can we find a way to bring order to the chaos of our lives? How do we deal with our simultaneous need for attachment and self-assertion? And how do we position ourselves with regard to social and personal expectations? The exhibition Mother Tongue by the French artist Camille Henrot (*1978 in Paris) revolves around existential emotions. The works in the exhibition reflect being drawn between the desire to retreat and the desire to engage – on both a personal and political level. Henrot’s works navigate through a present caught between rational systems and intuitive knowledge. Kestner Gesellschaft is pleased to present the artist’s first wide-ranging institutional solo exhibition of new works in drawing, painting and sculpture in Germany, accompanied by the large-scale fresco series Monday, and film installation Saturday. Henrot was awarded the Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2013 for her groundbreaking piece Grosse Fatigue, as well as the Carte Blanche at Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2017, resulting in her monumental exhibition Days are Dogs.

Mother Tongue

The title Mother Tongue can be read in different ways: It refers to language as a means of appropriating the world and to the mouth as a site of both expression and consumption. The ongoing series of drawings, paintings, and bronze sculptures System of Attachment deal with the tension between the human developmental needs for attachment and separation, which begin at infancy and continue throughout life.

Is Today Tomorrow?

The works in the exhibition address the present moment, but also imply a metaphysical potential. The new series Is Today Tomorrow?, for example, took shape during the first coronavirus lockdown, while Henrot, like many others, was practicing self isolation. This resulted in daily journal-like works that reflect the specific moments in which they were created. Living in a bubble as a fetal state is reflected as well as the concept of time through the titles of the works that all contain the word ‘day’, including Blue Monday, Wait Another Day and Ruin my Day, among others.

The larger-than-life-size bronze sculpture 3,2,1, which was created for the exhibition, shows that emotional work always goes hand in hand with processes of transformation and transition. In it, a hybrid human-bird creature sheds a tear over the amount of waste at its feet. Individual, intimate explorations consistently lead to wide-ranging questions about the systems in which they are embedded, such as the social demands that are made of individuals and the effects of our actions on subsequent generations.

Henrot’s work has been recognized internationally with major solo exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2017), the Kunsthalle Wien (2017), the New Museum in New York (2014), and at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery (2019) among others. In 2021 the artist will also have a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia and participate in the Liverpool Biennial in England.

Curator: Julika Bosch

The exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive exhibition catalog published in German and English by Walter König, including contributions from Emily LaBarge, Legacy Russell, and Marcus Steinweg, as well as an interview with the artist.

Learn more about Camille Henrot in the exhibition handout.

Installation Images

Camille Henrot, Mother Tongue, Installation view, Photo: Raimund Zakowski


Artist Talk: Camille Henrot

Digital Opening with Adam Budak, director, and Luise Wick, art education, of the exhibitions of Camille Henrot, Susan Hiller, Moyra Davey, Sharon Lockhart and Joseph Beuys / 100!

Visit us

Goseriede 11, 30159 Hannover

Patrons / Partners

We thank our patrons for the support of this exhibition.


Subscribe to our newsletter! We will inform you regularly about our exhibitions, events and digital offers.