The first UK solo exhibition of Israeli artist, writer and filmmaker Roee Rosen consists of two seminal works: the award winning film 'Out' (Tse) and the installation piece 'Live and Die as Eva Braun'.
Entering the ground floor of Rivington Place we’re confronted by several scenes, several moments, surrounding the final minutes of Hitler’s life. Aside from the powerful images that formulate each scene, passages of text are found, passages inviting you into the role of Eva Braun. You are encouraged to see each scene, each moment, from the perspective of one who was so intimate with the infamous dictator. Hitler speaks to you, this moment in time speaks to you, resurrected from a vantage position only granted by hindsight and creative artistic interpretation; ‘he jokingly asked to watch you pee, as if to mark the easy invasion of Poland with a nonchalant gesture of omnipotence, the glee of measured naughtiness.’ The grand historical account of Hitler’s death is challenged through the introduction of a reflexive subjectivity, fragments of voices that shatter the singular call of history, ‘after all, that night in ’39 he kept his uniform on.’ This exhibition looks back through time, not by the lens of the history of World War Two, but from the position of the now, through the contextualization of the present.
Live and Die as Eva Braun originally appeared in the Israel Museum in 1997. From the offset this collection was surrounded by immense controversy and the Minister for Education at the time called for its closure. It was acclaimed as a groundbreaking exhibition, creating fundamental shifts in the manner in which the holocaust could be represented. The themes of this exhibition are both thought provoking and disturbing as this reconstruction of Hitler’s final moments seeks to consolidate itself with the assumptions history has engrained within us. Its arrival at Rivington Place is coupled with the design of a new piece, specifically for the window space of this gallery.
Upstairs, the award winning film Out (Tse) is screened, providing a cinematic accompaniment to the collection below. The film deals with the themes of power and control, state and body, eroticism and politics to great affect. Starting as what may appear as a standard documentary, with the subjects of the film talking to camera in a traditional interview format, the film quickly descends into a visceral BDSM exorcism. The possessed subject channels the voice of Avigdor Lieberman, the current Israeli Foreign Minister, making violent declarations: ‘if you want to be Palestinian, then go to Palestine. I will buy you a one way ticket.’ This film makes use of the relations of submission and domination inherent to BDSM and exorcism to examine the manner in which individuals channel the voices of others, how political standpoints become embedded in our minds, how the oppression and control of states infiltrates deep into the imaginations and desires of citizens, how Lieberman’s voice is heard coming from mouths other than his own.
Roee Rosen’s Vile, Evil Veil, the exhibition header under which both Live and Die as Eva Braun and Out (Tse) are brought to Rivington Place, is a rare opportunity to see both of these seminal works under one roof. Rosen’s work has been subject to many controversies and it brings a fresh, insightful and provocative perspective to the themes around which it is based. The chance to witness these works of magnificent importance is one that should not be missed.
Toby Austin Locke
Vile, Evil Veil
21st March – 5th May 2012.