The Mother Mountain Institute 


The Mother Mountain Institute is a long-term project. It will be launched and it’s first phase will be presented at the exhibition To Seminar at bak in Utrecht. In the constellation of international and interracial adoption with its’ several stakeholders, like the adoption agency, the government, the adoptee and the adopting parents, the life of the birth mother is often forgotten and overseen. This project aims to bring together different stories from such mothers. These mothers, often pressured by the state, the church, criminal traffickers in an underlying patriarchal society, saw little or no perspective to a normal future for the child and (single) mother.


The respective desires of the child and the mother to meet one another again is beyond words. Besides the political, economical, cultural and historical context provided by for example academics about the why, and the how and the when, no sufficient answers are provided that can heal the wounds. The mountain is seen in several non-Western cultures as a spiritual figure and is evoked in this project both as a patient shelter, a site for meditative walks, and as a spiritual entity who might provide answers to impossible questions transcending rational thought.


At bak, the installed wooden box acts as an enlarged table-model representing the universe. Two balls, representing both the sun and the moon and the mother and the child rotate within the space. A women’s voice is narrating the story of a birth mother. Alternating, the mountain speaks.

The transcript for the mother is based on an interview, which took place in February 2017 in South Korea. The drawings are made over the years during walks at several mountains known for their spiritual qualities in Poland, India and South Korea.


Voice mother: Alexandra Coutts
Voice mountain: Agnieszka Polska
Words mountain by: Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Agnieszka Polska, the head monk of the Seon Monastry of Mihwangsa, South Korea, the woman who can see the future and the past, South Korea


Thanks to:

bak, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Carla Jungsung Beijsens, Dongyoung Lee, Kim Kyungman, Kim Sora
Kimura Byol

Kim Stoker

Global Overseas Adoptees' Link