Roee Rosen

Troubled Humor and Tainted Beauty

“I see beauty and seduction as crucial to the artistic experience, but they always suggest ideology, power structures, manipulations.”

Roee Rosen is an Israeli-American artist, filmmaker, and writer. He is known for his multilayered and provocative work, which often challenges the divides between history and the present, documentary and fiction, politics and erotics. Rosen dedicated years to crafting his fictive feminine persona, the Jewish-Belgian Surrealist painter and pornographer Justine Frank, a project that entailed fabricating her entire oeuvre as well as a book and a short film, Two Women and a Man (2005).

In 2010 Rosen created two films, Hilarious and Out, in which a BDSM session becomes a political exorcism. Out premiered at the Venice film festival, where it won the Orizzonti award for best medium-length film. Rosen’s film The Dust Channel was coproduced by documenta 14, where it was exhibited along with two historical text and image installations: The Blind Merchant (1989–1991), an artist book retelling Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice focusing on the figure of Shylock; and Live and Die as Eva Braun (1995-1997), a work that stirred a political scandal when first exhibited at the Israel Museum.

Rosen’s cinematic work was the subject of several retrospectives, including at the Oberhausen film festival (2012), and FICUNAM festival, Mexico City (2018). An expansive solo exhibition of his work at Centre Pompidou, Paris, entitled Histoires dans le pénombre, in 2018, also included a full film survey. Rosen is currently working on a book about illness in the guise of coloring pages entitled Lucy is Sick, a part of which was published by Steirischer Herbst (2020). His latest film Kafka for Kids (2022), which premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival, is a musical comedy combining fiction, animation, and documentary. Kafka for Kids is also the title of Rosen’s latest book, which features the film’s script and three essays. Rosen’s other recent titles on Sternberg Press include Live and Die as Eva Braun and Other Intimate Stories (2017) and Desire and Dust (2019).

Roee Rosen, The Dust Channel, 2016

“The title I chose for my Forecast mentorship stems from my own practice,” Rosen says. “I see myself as working in a comic mode, but one where laughter is often heavy-hearted, and touches upon uncomfortable political, historical, and erotic topics,” he adds. “I see beauty and seduction as crucial to the artistic experience, but they always suggest ideology, power structures, manipulations.”

Rosen’s work often tells stories where the real and the speculative, history and the present are mixed—a feature which doesn’t stem from sophism, he says, “but from a feeling that such hybrids are real and should be pursued with a sense of urgency. This tendency for complication, confusion, and ambivalence also points at a resistance to specialization: I am a painter who writes, an author who makes films, and I often combine different media into hybrids.”

Orion Seer [Roee Rosen], The Kafka Companion to Wellness, with an Appendix on His Death, The Standard Edition, volume 19 (1923–1925), 2022.
Roee Rosen, Kafka for Kids (Sternberg Press and Kunstmuseum Luzern, 2022). An English-German edition of the full script of the film, with essays by Jean-Pierre Rehm, Sergio Edelzstein, and Fanni Fetzer.
Maxim Komar-Myshkin [Roee Rosen], plate 22 from Vladimir’s Night, 2011–2014.

“This means that I hope I can help mentees who write, create visual art, film, and video, as well as those who forge their own concoction of media.”

Rosen hopes to be moved, stimulated, and surprised by applicants’ project ideas. “I believe that each of our peculiar cultural and biographical identities should be challenged, but they are also a source of concrete interest and knowledge. That is, I look forward to learning from the experience of a dialogue with a mentee. Ultimately, I believe in artists who enjoy and dare to challenge the machinations and preconceptions of their chosen forms of expression.”

Watch Roee Rosen’s video statement: