Mette Sterre

Sterre mette portrait photo nyre tiessen bettina steinbruegge hamburg

Come, take a walk in Mette Sterre’s brain-space.

As a child, Mette Sterre made little theatre shows, devising the stories and drawing the settings and characters. She is and always has been a maker of worlds. Sterre’s work is an invitation to wander through the realms of her imagination, meeting myth and multi-hyphenate organism alike, who pose some of life’s great unanswerable questions: “What is consciousness? What else could we be beyond human?” She works with intuitive improvisation, a carefully practiced skill which combines rigorous material research and contextual understanding. Her materials are accessible, poured with love and commitment. The resulting works are visually enthralling but more so for the energy that transmutes them. Sterre invites you to consider her works with your gut, not only your eyes, unlocking a vast world where patriarchal power structures melt along with fixed conceptions of materiality, perception, and embodiment.

The grotesque body is always in a state of flux, building itself and its others, the pinnacle of transformation.

Sterre’s works are populated by characters who embody the shadow worlds of humanity. The print work ssssshhhht, depicts the artist’s mother, imbibed in a body mask depicting the snake from the story of Genesis, Eve’s tempter. The mask itself is constructed of 1000 fragments of hand cut leather, pieced together by hand, forming the transformative skin, worn and born together. Here, the concept of inherited guilt is cast out, along with the shame and oppression of the female body associated with this creation story. Sterre’s woman is not the embodiment of Adam’s rib but a whole universe, a grotesque body of senses and states, always becoming, never finished. In Let us Please Populate, hand cut and melted leaves have been reassembled to form a mask for the whole body. The work derives from a prophecy made by Nostradamus, in which plants can no longer photosynthesise because the sun is in shadow, caused by clouds of dust and fire from the earth’s burning. Without photosynthesis life will expire, unless, as Sterre’s figure allows, humans and plants merge, feeding off each other in an organic/inorganic osmosis. Sterre’s works breakdown logic to make way for new ideas, allowing the imagination to proliferate. Her current research explores the relation between the physical body and digital realm, centred around robotics and animism. Are we all cyborgs? Do plants feel? With the meteoric rise in digital technologies, the boundaries between our bodies, the digital world and nature are increasingly blurred. Sterre’s works are emblematic of her belief that to enact social change, we must embrace a carnivalesque humour, cast doubt on rigidity and wait for the unexpected and absurd.

Text by Constance Chester

Portraits by Arvo Leo and Nyre Tiessen

In the past I wish I had a printer I could connect to my head, but now the worlds that I'm able to build are better than I get to imagine beforehand!

Mette Sterre

Biography Mette Sterre

born 1983 in Delft, The Netherlands


2019-2021 Post - Graduate Residency Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten Amsterdam (equivalent to phd)
2012-2014 MA Performance Design & Practice at University of the Arts London Central Saint Martins
2011 MA Creative Research & Performance University of Roehampton London
2002-2006 BA Autonomous Visual Art Willem de Kooning Academie Rotterdam

Exhibitions (selection)

Manifesta14 It matters what worlds world worlds: how to tell stories otherwise ___on speculation, Grand Hotel, Prishtina, Kosovo
Come Alive, Muntgebouw, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Miss Alternative World Competition, Shakespeare Globe Theater, London, United Kingdom

Open Studio Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
MIP4, Centro de Experimentação e Informação de Arte, Belo Horizonte Brazil

Queer Bodies Against-___ FLUC, Vienna, Austria
3pesos Trienale Bestos, Mexico City, Mexico

Pleasure Palace Concrete Jungle Kill Joy Kunstpodium T, Tilburg, the Netherlands

It Girl Circus - A circuit of overthinking, Staging Realities, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany

David Roberts Art Foundation 10th anniversary of Frieze evening of Performances , Club Koko, London, United Kingdom

Saiaragaz, Honey You're no Seabunny, Joey Ramone, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (solo)
Megahammer #2, Glasgow International, Glasgow, United Kingdom

Circus of Stillness: The Power over Wild Beasts, Watermill Center, New York, United States
Spotlight on Schawinsky, Migros Museum, Zurich, Switzerland

Hysteria # 3 Abjection CUE Art Fund, New York, United States


Performance Maker in residence at the Digital Innovation Lab, Theater Utrecht, The Netherlands

Robots in Captivity, Buitenplaats Doornburgh, Maarssen, The Netherlands

Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Instituto Buena Bista Mondriaan Fund Residency, Willemstad, Curacao
Black Hole Empire, Black Hole Space, Worm, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Failure in Chrome, Wrong Biennale, Digital Art Residency, London, United Kingdom

Digital Anthropology Lab, London College of Fashion, London, United Kingdom

Watermil Summer Program, Watermill Center Laboratory for Performance, New York, United States


International presentation Grant Mondriaan Fund for Manifesta Biennale, The Netherlands

Kwintus Art Group Residency bijdrage Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, The Netherlands

Prins Bernhard Cultuur Fonds/van Tijl Fonds Exceptional Talent Award, The Netherlands

Creative Industries Funds NL Research Design Grant, The Netherlands
International Presentation Grant for Kunstverein Hamburg Mondriaan Fund, The Netherlands
Residency Grant for Instituto Buena Bista, Mondriaan Fund, The Netherlands

Research and Development Fund Centrum of Visual Arts Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Project Fund STICHTING STOKROOS, The Netherlands

Catlin Guide selection of UK Best MA and BA graduates, The Netherlands
Research & Development Grant Centrum Beeldende Kunst Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Byrd Hofmann foundation New York, Bursary for Watermill Summer Program, United States

Byrd Hofmann Foundation New York, Bursary for Watermill Summer Program United States

Fundatie van de Vrijvrouwe van Renswoude study scholarship, The Netherlands
Bekker - La Bastide Fonds study scholarship, The Netherlands

Fundatie van de Vrijvrouwe van Renswoude study scholarship, The Netherlands
Hendrik Muller Vaderlandsch Fonds study scholarship, The Netherlands

Sterre mette portriat studioshot bettina steinbruegge hamburg

Works by Mette Sterre

  • Sterre mette let us please populate bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Let us Please Populate

    2021 / Soft satin high quality glicee print on dibond / 80 x 60 cm / 31.5 x 23.6 in

  • Sterre mette life expectancy of a chemical romance bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Let us Please Populate

    2016 / Soft satin glicee print with UV filter on dibond / 60 x 50 cm / 23.6 x 19.7 in

  • Sterre mette headpeace bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Let us Please Populate

    2018 / Fine art baryta print on dibond / 50 x 45 cm / 19.7 x 17.7 in

  • Sterre mette better than sliced head bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Let us Please Populate

    2021 / Oil on canvas with handmade wooden frame / 80 x 60 cm / 31.5 x 23.6 in (framed)

  • Sterre mette sssshhttt bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Let us Please Populate

    2016 / Photo print on dibond / 70 x 52.5 cm / 27.6 x 20.7 in

  • Sterre mette certificate of authenticity bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Let us Please Populate

    2021 / Digital print of analogue created paper cut outs on high quality print paper / 30 x 42 cm / 11.8 x 16.5 in