Bettina WitteVeen


Bettina WitteVeen is a mid-career German artist residing in New York. Born in Mannheim, Germany, she graduated in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, mastering in American History, from Wellesley College and studied law at Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich. Her interest in history and in the philosophy of the law, and her commitment to human rights, are the conceptual basis for her art..

WitteVeen’s latest major work was a month-long installation of more than 130 photographs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York in October 2015. The installation titled When We Were Soldiers… once and young transformed an abandoned hospital building on the site into an epic meditation on war and healing. The exhibition was hailed by critics as "brave and brilliant." It was the fourth part of a decades-long project titled The Heart of Darkness that has involved installations in Toulouse, France, New York’s Goethe Institute, and in what was once an underground munitions factory and air raid bunker in Berlin.

Witteveen began exhibiting in 1992. Her career comprises three long-term projects, each demanding a decade or more of research and on-location photography. WitteVeen’s first project, Sacred Sister, a meditation on spirituality, myth and womanhood (with a contribution by Robert Wilson) was exhibited at Art Basel Miami in 2003 and documented in a monograph published by Verve Editions. WitteVeen’s work was included in the exhibition Body Art: Masks of Identity at the American Museum of Natural History in New York in 1999-2000. The ErlKing project, a broad philosophical re-interpretation of Goethe’s poem was exhibited at the Miart Foundation during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2005 and a year later at the White Space Gallery in Amsterdam and at the Berliner Liste contemporary art fair in 2010. Another version of the work took the form of a film: The Erlking/Altar for Shiva (Philip Reinhold Productions, 2011) screened at Munich Modern in 2011 and was nominated for the Montblanc Award at the Cutlog Artist-Film-Festival in Paris in 2013.

Götterfunken feuertrunken der Erlkönig: whiteout
, the second part of the Erlking trilogy will be shown at the former Soviet military site of Wünsdorf near Berlin, known as “the forbidden city”, in June 2018. In this compelling and timely installation joining film, photography and sculptural elements, the artist questions the ethical limits of the progress in military-nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.

In November 2018 on invitation by the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Memorial-Church, Berlin, one of the most important national memorials to the horrors of war, WitteVeen will present her installation titled II.II.I8 Dämmerung as the fifth part of her global antiwar project The Heart of Darkness, addressing the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I. She will transform a side chapel of the church by placing a lifesize, cruciform photographic sculpture with video, photography and a sound installation in an emotionally and visually arresting tableau.

WitteVeen’s works are in several private and public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art.