Justine Frank (1900-1943): A Retrospective
1998 – 2003
Justine Frank is a surrealist artist, the author of the erotic novel Sweet Sweat (1931), Georges Bataille's lover and the first alter ego of one of the most important contemporary Israeli artists, Roee Rosen. It comes as no surprise that Rosen, who has been engaged in teaching for a long time, has opted to create a second self, to take on another identity. However, using this modernist tool, he indulges in redundancy characteristic of contemporaneity. Frank, Rosen's alter ego, is endowed with an artistic heritage, a life story and a retrospective study of her life and work — all this has been painstakingly constructed by the artist. The fictional characters — after Frank Rosen has created an imaginary artist, this time of Russian origin, Maxim Komar-Myshkin — allow the artist to tackle complicated topics, speaking the language of black humor and self-mockery.

In one of his interviews, Roee Rosen describes his alter ego as "the grandmother I should have had." Frank's work and biography bring together the themes that had a formative influence on Rosen's career: Jewish theology, mysticism, the history of Christian anti-Semitism, the history and mythology of European avant-garde, libertinism, feminism and Zionism.

Revolving around two main topics, desire and violence, Rosen's study of Frank's biography and work allows him to create a dialogue between history and contemporary time. In today's world characterized by political correctness, self-censorship and increasing lack of space for discussion, Frank's character enables the artist to review the past through the prism of the present and talk about the topics of Jewish identity, Zionism, the history of anti-Semitism, feminism and our understanding of the political aspect of art.

Rosen has created a complex, multi-layered project, in which he acts as a researcher, biographer, critic, documentary filmmaker and, obviously, a hoaxer. Moreover, the media coverage of the project has played into the hands of the artist — many reviews persistently persuaded readers that Justine Frank was actually real, mentioning the actual author behind the project only in passing. "Justine Frank (1900-1943): A Retrospective" demonstrates how easy that is today, in the era of fake news and endless public exposures, to create a life story from scratch and incorporate it in other people's biographies and art history.

artistic director of the project: Viktor Misiano
National Center for Contemporary Arts
Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center
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