Denmark’s first solo exhibition with artist, writer and filmmaker Roee Rosen (b. in Rehovot, 1963) presents the series Vladimir’s Night (2011-2014) along with the films Tse/Out (2010) and The Dust Channel (2016), which attracted a great deal of attention at documenta 14. The exhibition satirically highlights fetishism and power and creates a polemic space for current political questions.
Vladimir’s Night (2011–14) is an album of thirty-nine gouaches and verse that evolves around fetishism and power in satirical fashion while inspired by e.g. the underground tradition of the unofficial Moscow artists of the 1960s and 1970ssuch as albums by Kabakov and Pivovarov. The work is a hybrid of a children book, a gory martyrdom and a twisted political treatise in which the protagonist Vladimir (Putin) is both a young child and a political leader. He is surrounded by animated objects and absurd scenarios. It all starts as a cheerful visual fable, but slowly slips into a violent and grotesque narrative about power and torture. Vladimir’s Night was supposedly created by Maxim Komar-Myshkin, a pseudonym for Russian poet Efim Poplavsky (1978–2011) who emigrated to Tel Aviv in the early 2000s. His fiction extends to include the artists collective he supposedly founded, the Buried Alive Group, whose videos and manifesto are also featured in the exhibition.
The film The Dust Channel (2016) forms the final chapter in a series based on Komar-Myshkin’s artistic life. The film is an operetta with a Russian libretto about purification in all its forms taking place in a bourgeois Israeli family whose fear of dirt, dust and any foreign matter results in an almost perverted devotion to household appliances. Rosen plays on the connection between dust and sand by incorporating the Israeli desert, where political refugees are detained and the fear of foreigners flourishes. The prison is called Holot, the Hebrew word for sand. An absurd and politically incisive fiction, The Dust Channel creates a polemic space for addressing current societal issues.
The exhibition also includes a film screening event in November 2019, presenting the film Tse / Out (2010). Tse deals with politics, exorcism and the expulsion of demons. Once again we find Rosen’s work taking a turn during the course of the narrative, which starts with a kind of documentary interviews on politics that slowly turn into a talk about BDSM and go on to become a scene of dominance and submission. Set in a living room, the scene shows the submissive part virtually spitting out political statements previously spoken by Avigdor Lieberman, one of the most extreme right-wing politicians in Israel. The film concludes with an absurd and satirical folk song that links up political and sexual oppression.
Roee Rosen (b. 1963) is an artist, writer and filmmaker as well as a critical voice in his native Israel. His practice focuses on power, forms of desire, and structural violence. Rosen has created an artistic universe that undermines normative hegemonies, using fiction and satire as he merges Israeli and global politics with myths and historical references. Using a variety of fictional characters and iconographic motifs, Rosen draws on – and transforms – historical avant-garde and popular media, political propaganda and classic fairy tales for children. Roee Rosen is a professor at both HaMidrasha College of Art, Kfar-Saba and the Bezalel Art Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem.