“For me it was always a dream, not only to show in art galleries and museums, but to be a part of the public realm, to put the work into a reality that has its own motion, action and interaction, and to live in it. I would love the work to be part of the architecture, and part of the human flow."
Michal Rovner, born in Israel in 1957, works with video, sculpture, and installation exploring issues of time, place, and identity, reflecting on the continuum of human existence in an innovative artistic language.
Rovner’s explorations shift constantly between the poetic and the political and between the present and invocations of the past. The artist’s 2011 three-part exhibition Histoires at the Louvre presented stone and video works inside the museum and installed two of her monumental stone sculptures, Makom II and Makom IV, in the Cour Napoléon, adjacent to I. M. Pei’s iconic pyramid. With stones collected from dismantled or destroyed houses, these massive structures weighed fifty to seventy tons each, and their primordial forms created a dialogue with the ornate classical façades of the Louvre. In 2018, Rovner won the annual EMET Prize in Arts and Culture in recognition of her pioneering use of photography and video to explore political and historical subjects in a manner that transcends time and place.
The site-specific Transitions was installed at Crossrail Place in London in 2019. In this 16-meter-long video work, the abstracted image of human flow is represented as an undercurrent in an iconographic landscape of London, evoking time, history, and the constant transition of human existence. The 2019 video work Crepe nel muro, Palermo (Cracked Wall, Palermo), addresses moments of cracks and breaks in the human timeline. Thousands of figures are seen marching between elongated cypress trees in a 25-meter-tall projection, woven into the walls of the church of Santa Maria dello Spasimo in Palermo, Italy.
Rovner has received international solo exhibitions, with a mid-career retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2002 where her multichannel work Time Left (2002) depicted thousands of ambiguous silhouetted figures walking en masse. At the 50th Venice Biennale (2003), Rovner represented Israel with the acclaimed exhibition Against Order? Against Disorder?, where she displayed petri dishes containing tiny figures and her installation Culture-C1 at the Venice Biennale’s International Architecture Exhibition (2021) revisited these populated microcosms to further explore the interconnectedness of humanity. Most recently, Rovner’s work has been shown at the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow (2022); Mary M. Torggler Fine Art Centre, Virginia; Kunsthaus Göttingen, Göttingen (2021) and Pace Gallery, Florida (2022) and features in the collections of Brooklyn Museum, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago among others.