Bettina WitteVeen


“Be the change you want to see in the world”
-Mahatma Gandhi


WitteVeen’s breakthrough to public acclaim occurred when several images of her “Hybrid Identities” series were included in the important and critically acclaimed exhibition, “Body Art: Masks of Identity” at the American Museum of Natural History in New York in 1999-2000.

WitteVeen is a self-taught photographer and conceptual artist. She travels extensively to do research and photographs for her projects; most take several years to complete. WitteVeen resides in New York. She is a practicing Buddhist and adherent to the principal of Metta, the pursuit of Enlightenment through compassion and social activism. Multi-lingual, she has had a wide exposure to both the classical and contemporary arts. A humanist education has strongly influenced her work: she makes numerous literary references to such giants of the intellect as Plato, Wolfgang von Goethe, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Walt Whitman, Joseph Conrad, Paul Celan, Anna Akhmatova and Allen Ginsberg, for example.

Bettina WitteVeen graduated from Wellesley College with a Bachelors Degree in American Studies/History. In her work WitteVeen explores a wide range of subjects from mythology in “Scared Sister” to the impact of historical events on the individual in the collectively titled “The Heart of Darkness”, a world-wide installation project and photographic poem of epic scale. In a series of exhibitions in historically significant locations, WitteVeen traces collective trauma and other contributing factors to human destructiveness as it finds its expression in war and genocide. “The Heart of Darkness” premiered in 2005 with “Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori” as part of L’Ete de Photo Lectoure in France. WitteVeen’s next installation was “Brüder, Zur Sonne, Zur Freiheit and the beat goes on” at the Goethe Institute in New York as part of the Museum Mile event in 2006. “Death and the Maiden” with over a hundred photographs so far the largest segment of “The Heart of Darkness” project, was exhibited in a vast subterranean space in Berlin in 2008 to great acclaim.

WitteVeen collaborated with Robert Wilson and presented her monograph with the title “Sacred Sister” by Verve Editions at “Art Loves Design” at Art Basel/Miami in 2003. She exhibited “The ErlKing: Altar for Shiva,” WitteVeen’s visual and philosophical interpretation of Goethe’s famous poem, at Berliner Liste: Fair for Contemporary Art and Photography 2010.

WitteVeen culls images from historic archives for some of her projects. She alters them extensively, visually only, by employing a complex copying process that results in a new image. This image is analog photographed, analog printed and extensively retouched by hand.

Her work has been reviewed in the international art press, prominently featured in The New York Times, Newsweek, Der Tagesspiegel, Berliner Zeitung and was discussed in “Photography: A Cultural History” by Mary Warner Marien. Bettina WitteVeen’s photographs are in several private and corporate institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art.