DISTURBANCE AS CRITICAL CONFRONTATION: ROEE ROSEN AT FICUNAM 8 | RETROSPECTIVE

Roee Rosen (Rehovot, Israel, 1963) graduated, in 1984, from the Philosophy School of the Tel-Aviv University after studying Comparative Literature Studies. By the end of the 1980s, he emigrated to the United States to study at the School of Visual Arts and the Hunter College in New York. In the early 1990s, Rosen’s work already showed the power and the qualities which characterize his work—a well-developed understanding of the various art disciplines, the creation of sense through fiction, and experimentation using media intertextuality. Rosen’s work is determined by visual arts and literature, but it deals—always in a playful and sarcastic tone—with subjects related to the fields of religion, politics, history, and communication. In Roee Rosen’s hands, all expressions get a critical treatment.

Rosen, who has invented fictional characters in all kind of artistic works, carries on with his activity as a visual creator through works such as The Buried Alive Videos (2013), which is part of a transmedia project centered on a fictional figure, the Russian poet Maxim Komar-Myshkin, an opponent to Vladimir Putin. The Dust Channel (2016), his most recent visual work, was presented and coproduced by Documenta 14, one of the most important contemporary-art exhibitions in the world, which is held in Kassel, Germany. This work, set in the household of a bourgeois Israeli family whose fear of dirtiness takes the shape of a bizarre devotion for electric appliances, brings together two different idioms, the one of mass media and the one of opera music.

Rosen’s work explores issues such as identity and the notions of evil, dealing specifically with the collective memory of the Jewish people and the power of creativity in life-or-death situations. Rosen has created a body of work which is understood as provocative in sociopolitical terms.

  1. Roee Rosen was influenced by the work of the Israeli painter and sculptor Moshe Gershuni, whose work deals with the Holocaust, homoeroticism, and a critique of nationalism and the Zionist movement, which defends an independent Israeli State in Palestinian territory.
  2. In 1997, Rosen presented his exhibition Live and Die as Eva Braun at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Rosen’s goal was to place the viewer in the role of Hitler’s lover to imagine the couple’s love activity in their bunker just before they committed suicide. This exhibition provoked a huge shock and it was even debated within Israel’s parliament.
  3. This creator is recognized for reinstating the theme of the Holocaust in contemporary Israeli art and for legitimizing the importance of this issue.
  4. Justin Frank is a fictional character to whom Rosen has devoted part of his work. She is a Belgian painter and pornographer who practices Judaism. She was expelled from Surrealist circles and went to live in Palestine in the 1940s.
  5. Rosen made a pornographic book, titled Sweet Sweat (2009), under the pseudonym Justin Frank.
  6. “I don’t offer truth. I offer some sort of fluid experience in which the others are invited to be active in the creation of their own judgment,” stated the Israeli artist.
  7. Out! (2010) is a film which recounts an exorcism combined with a bondage session; domination and sadomasochism in which the creator quotes Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs until 2015, and well known for his extreme-right positions.
  8. In 2010, Out! won the Orizzonti award in the 67th edition of the Venice Film Festival.

Select Filmography:
- The Dust Channel (2016)
- The Buried Alive Videos (2013)
- Hilarious (2010)
- Tse/Out (2010)
- The Confessions of Roee Rosen (2008)
- Gagging During Confession: Names and Arms (2008)
- Confessions Coming Soon (2007)
- I Was Called Kuney-Lemel (2007)
- Two Women and a Man (2005)
- Dr. Cross, a Dialogue (1994)