press release

The Edith-Russ-Haus (ERH) presents the first solo exhibition in Germany of the renowned Israeli video artist, painter, and author Roee Rosen. The central themes of Rosen's work are questions of identity, death, and "evil," themes that he reflects through and in relation to the human body and the human voice.

It is surely no coincidence that Rosen's first solo exhibition in Germany could not take place before 2016. His work is hard to grasp, and even harder to digest. Disorienting and disturbing, it hounds the viewer, who comes to feel that a demon has sunk its teeth into his neck or seared his eyes. Some of those demons, furthermore, stem directly from recent German history.

Rosen systematically blurs the boundaries between reality and fiction, historical facts, and confabulation. The provocative approaches of his narratives on violence and suffering are sharply juxtaposed with his dark but never cynical humor; with this jet-black humor, he not only defies established consensus on how to regard misfortune, thereby abandoning the well-trodden paths of political correctness, but he also denies the viewer coming to terms with suffering, a moment of reconciliatory catharsis.

With his strategy of obfuscating his identity by appropriating several masks, Rosen makes visible otherwise hidden and contradictory historical and social narratives of power, powerlessness, and oppression. For example, he deliberately takes up anti-Semitic propaganda and exaggerate it into the grotesque. Rosen's pivotal theme is the destruction of the human body in all its historical and geopolitical variations, from medieval times to the present day.

"The body is always the first to tell you if something is wrong; the somatic transgression usually comes first and tells you that a border has been crossed. It does not happen often, but sometimes an idea will give me this sweaty, uncomfortable feeling, and then I know that it merits my attention." –Roee Rosen

He radically and deliberately breaches the normative consensus with which society at large treats these issues to make us painfully aware of their topicality. For the artist pits all his strength against oblivion, which is embedded in the reconciliatory rituals of canonized grief.

The exhibition includes video installations, drawings, books, posters, and T-shirts by Roee Rosen, a new installation of his contentious work Live and Die as Eva Braun, the first-ever public presentation of his seminal book project The Blind Merchant (1989–91) in Europe, to coincide with the publication of the book by Sternberg Press, and an installation that was specially created for the ERH: Justine Frank Morphing Self Portraits, which will each night be projected into public space as the part of ERH's Aquarium project.

A book will be launched for the finissage by ERH and Sternberg Press, Berlin, collecting some of Rosen's provocative shorter texts.

In cooperation with the transmediale 2016 conversationpiece, the ERH has curated a film program with Roee Rosen on February 6, which includes the Berlin premiere of the videos Two Women and a Man (2005) and The Confessions of Roee Rosen (2008).

Curators: Edit Molnár & Marcel Schwierin