Michèle Matyn considers the ways myths, folklore and religiosity are formed through our interaction with nature. Matyn’s work often begins with a journey to remote locations that might inspire belief in the supernatural. Her works typically feel ‘homespun,’ evoking esoteric culture as well as the anthropomorphic gaze onto the outer world. Matyn has produced a body of photographs and sculptures—often used for performances—that depict natural forms and shrines and consider objects and environments as living entities. Her display brings together different forms, characters and encounters which relate to the roles of women in society. Matyn has made a new performance for the pier outside of Röda Sten Konsthall using the costumed characters Drool, Very Very Happy and Difficult Road I & II. Her performance is based on the historic folk art-based myth behind the Jenny Haniver—a ray’s carcass that has been modified and dried resembling a devil-like creature, believed to possess magical powers in 16th century Belgium ports. The Jenny Haniver is used as a votive offering to be returned to the sea, restoring balance in the world.

The sculpture Bilpannen (English: Thigh-Tiles) is a sculpture made through a performance Matyn made together with six other women by placing clay over their thighs, before baking them in a paper kiln. This method is a pre-industrial tile-making technique by women in rural regions of Europe. The tiles use the woman’s body to create protective structures. The work Made Mayrem is a photograph of a shrine for women in the Caucasus mountains, a region with strong pagan beliefs.


Michèle Matyn is based in Antwerp.
Commissioned for GIBCA 2017