About the Photographer
Israeli, b. 1957
I'm not interested in memory that has to do with remembering, but more with the residue of things, the left-overs of things on the mind – not with something that's occurred, but with the mark that is left. It's about stripping down the image to its most essential elements. – Michal Rovner
In Michal Rovner's pictures, here from her series One-Person Game Against Nature, (1992-93), the Israeli artist photographed people floating in the Dead Sea at dusk, then manipulated the images on her computer, changing the colors to vivid monochromatic tones, and abstracting the figures to an almost unrecognizable extent. "[Hovering] on the brink of visibility and existence," as the New York Times described them, her figures embody an ambiguous conflict in which Rovner refrains from passing judgment. In fact, many of Rovner's multimedia works reference the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Her haunting images often depict faceless individuals lost against abstract backgrounds that bring to mind swirling water or desert sands. These shrouded figures suggest the uncertain future and troubled past of itinerant populations in the Middle East. Rovner, however, takes a meditative approach to the intellectual and political components of her work and by eliminating the individuality of her subjects, she creates a mood of mystery and loneliness that lingers alongside the political content of her works.
Recently Rovner was invited by the Holocaust Museum, Memorial and Education Center in Jerusalem to create a video piece about Jewish life in Europe before WWII. To create the eleven-minute montage Living Landscape, Rovner chose "moments" from films made in the 1920s and 30s. Living Landscape, the resulting eleven-minute montage, depicts the ordinary lives of Jews living in Europe. The artist combines footage of dances, candid encounters with the camera, and traditional music to convey Europe's Jews as people rather than as victims. The piece breaks with Rovner's previous focus on anonymity while examining the themes of spirituality, transcendence and change that permeate her work as a whole.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1957, Rovner studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art (BFA, 1985) and Tel Aviv University (BA, 1981). She has exhibited widely, including shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, where she also participated in their 2000 Biennial exhibit; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Rovner has divided her time between Israel and New York since 1988.