Elske Rosenfeld

“A Vocabulary of Revolutionary Gestures”

Rosenfeld’s work addresses the relationship between specific historical events and contemporary scenarios of political action, and the potential for political change. Using archival material from the history of the state socialisms of Eastern Europe and their forms of dissidence, as well as her own biographical investment in these, she reworks the juncture between the utopian promise of the political project of communism and the concrete mechanisms of its failure, as a space from where to reconstruct concepts of the Political for the present day.
Her thesis project builds on this research and consists of a video work, performance, and text that circle around a video clip from a revolutionary assembly in East Berlin in 1989, and documents from other situations of revolution or protest. Gestures, movements, and body parts taken from these are developed into abstracted interventions and choreographies that address the body as the site and archive of the political event. Can something of the experience of a past revolution persist in the body as potentiality, even after a revolution has failed or become closed down in representation, re-institutionalisation, and historiography? Can we re-construct a non-essentialist, intersubjective concept of the body as political – as a disruptive force that can open up spaces of openness again and again, across time?


Rosenfeld lives and works in Berlin and Vienna. She completed the PhD-in-Practice programme at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 2014 with the support of a DOC-Fellowship of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
Her work has been presented internationally in institutions including the Mumok, Vienna; Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna; GfzK Leipzig; tranzit, Cluj, Romania; Devi Art Foundation, Delhi; the education programme of documenta13; Swiss off-site Pavilion, Venice Biennial 2011; Vienna Art Week 2011; BAK, Utrecht; Shedhalle, Zürich; among others. She has taken part in international residencies, such as the Visual Arts residency program at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada. Her texts have been published in/on eipcp.net, Reviews in Cultural Theory, Springerin – Hefte für Gegenwartskunst, and other publications.
She is currently working on the PEEK-funded artistic research project “Formats of Meeting. Situation, Presence, and Performativity” at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.