The Radical Roee Rosen

For nearly 30 years, the Israeli painter, writer, and filmmaker, Roee Rosen has studiously rejected convention. This genre-defying, often politically charged work has been shown around the world but not always with his own name attached. Since the late 1990s, he's occasionally exhibited as various alter-egos. One, Justine Frank, is a Belgian feminist and surrealist. Another, a Russian poet slash agitator called Maxim Komar-Myshkin. Rosen's signature irreverence is on full display in the 2016 short film, The Dust Channel, a Russian language operetta about a man, a woman, and a vacuum, which doubles as a commentary on xenophobia in his native Israel.

Roee Rosen: I am dealing with stuff that can be polemic and controversial, and I’m trying to do it, also, in a way that is tactile–– that is not only cerebral. The body is asserted in what I do, often. Since I am a traditional Freudian, you know I see libido everywhere, and I think that the way that desire asserts itself has implications that are ideological, political, social. So, by touching upon desire and fantasy, I believe I touch other things as well.

AJC: Can art change anything?

Rosen: I think art changes constantly. I mean, I think that when… if someone sees something and their world view shifts slightly, that’s already a change. So I don’t think art, that my art can steer a revolution, but it can create perhaps small but, for me, crucial shifts.