The Mother Mountain Institute (2017-ongoing)
installation, collection of stories, sound, drawings
by Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide)


01. Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Mother Mountain Institute, 2017, installation, sound piece, drawings


The Mother Mountain Institute is an ongoing project and it aims to give a voice to the mothers, who under various circumstances gave their child for adoption. The interest of the birth mother is often overlooked in the constellation of international and interracial adoption with its’ several stakeholders, like the adoption agency, the government, the adoptee and the adopting parents. These women who are often found in precarious social and economical situations are faced with pressure by the state, the church, criminal traffickers in an underlying patriarchal society.


After the separation the respective desires of the mother and the child to find one another again remains. Like celestial bodies pulled by gravity they circle around each other. 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.


The installation is a wooden box and 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 first chapter of The Mother Mountain Institute focuses on South Korea. Since the Korean War (1950–1953) South Korea has sent around 200.000 to 300.000 children overseas to white American and European families. The South Korea adoption model became an example for the international adoption industry.


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.



The Mother Mountain Institute travels to: 
To Seminar at bak
Utrecht, The Netherlands
11 March–21 May 2017


Act II of Sharjah Biennial 13 , Tamawuj
Beirut, Libanon
14 October 2017–1 January 2018




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:
, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Carla Jungsung Beijsens
Dongyoung Lee
Kim Kyungman
Kim Sora
Kimura Byol
Kim Stoker
Global Overseas Adoptees'Link





02. Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Patriarchy, 2017, text drawing, 30 x 21 cm


03. Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Dharma Mountain, South Korea, 2017, 13 x 21 cm