Mika Rottenberg

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Mika Rottenberg (born 1976) is a contemporary Argentine-Israeli video artist who lives and works in New York City. Rottenberg is best known for her surreal video and installation work that often deals with the subject of female labor. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally.


Mika Rottenberg was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1976. She made aliyah to Israel with her family in 1977. In 1998, she graduated from HaMidrasha School of Art, Beit Berl College, Israel. In 2000, Rottenberg moved to New York to continue her education, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in 2000 and a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University in 2004. She is currently represented by Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York and by Galerie Laurent Godin in Paris.[1] [2]

Rottenberg's video works feature women with various physical eccentricities, such as being very tall, large-bodied, or muscular, performing physical acts that serve as an allegory for the human condition in post-modern times. Her videos are inspired by stories where women have an unusual characteristic about their bodies that makes them a commodity, and specifically the women who advertise their unusual characteristic online to be utilized for hire. Some of the concepts her art deals with involve labor, body/environment relationships, and fictional logic.

She describes her work as "social Surrealism" and "a spiritual kind of Marxism." [3] She strives to "... give space and a stage to women who don't always obey gender and conventional beauty expectations." [4]

Significant works[edit]

Mary's Cherries (2004), which shows a woman's red fingernails being grown, clipped, and transformed into maraschino cherries, was influenced by a story about a woman with a rare blood type who quit her job to sell her blood. The women featured in Mary's Cherries are all wrestlers for hire. Cheese (2007) is a multi-channel video installation that depicts women with very long hair milking cows and making cheese using a machine powered by the movement of the women's hair.[5] Rottenberg's work was showcased at the Whitney Biennial 2008.[6]

Dough (2005-2006) watches Raqui, a size-acceptance activist and frequent collaborator of Rottenberg's as she cries tears that evaporate into steam, causing dough to rise. [7]The dough is them pulled and pushed through holes into multiple rooms by Tall Kat, a skinny, 6’9” woman who can reach from room to room. Through their actions, a unit that measures labor is created. [8] 

In Tropical Breeze (2004), champion bodybuilder Heather Foster drives a converted truck that functions as a shop, packaging her sweat. In the back of the truck, dancer Felicia Ballos pedals a makeshift device, picking up tissues and using gum to stick them to a clothesline, transferring them to Heather, who uses them to collect her sweat for packaging and later for sale.[9]

Squeeze (2010) is a video shot on location at a lettuce farm in Arizona and a rubber plant in Kirala, India. Actors engage in a variety of gestures including thrusting a tongue through a stucco wall, a line of women massaging hands that protrude through a wall, and Bunny Glamazon being smashed between two mattresses.[10]

In 2011, Rottenberg collaborated with artist Jon Kessler on SEVEN, a performance and installation created for Performa 11 in New York City, performed at Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery. According to the Performa website, SEVEN "collapse[d] film time and real time to create an intricate laboratory that channels body fluids and colors into a spectacle on the African savannah. In New York, a “Chakra Juicer” will capture sweat from seven performers engaging in ritualistic athletic activity."[11][12]

In 2013, Rottenberg held a solo exhibition at the Israel Museum, in Jerusalem.[13]

In Ponytails (2014), a pair of kinetic sculptures, one blonde and one dark-haired, extend and flip frantically through two glory-hole-like openings in separate gallery walls. [14]

In 2015, her work "NoNoseKnows" was featured in the Venice Biennale as part of an exhibition curated by Okwui Enwezor: "All the World's Futures."

Ceiling Fan #4 (2016) is viewed through narrow, horizontal openings in a gallery wall. Inside, ceiling fans turn, illuminated by pastel light.

Her 2017 video installation, Cosmic Generator, is shot partly in Mexicali, along the U.S. Mexico border. It follows workers in cramped spaces performing absurd tasks such as crushing lightbulbs, accompanied by a soundtrack of electronic buzzes and blips.The viewer is shown a series of tunnels, ostensibly linking a variety of workshops and restaurants show later in the twenty-six-minute piece. [15]

In addition to video, Rottenberg has also exhibited paintings and photographs. She is represented by Andrea Rosen Gallery and Laurent Godin Gallery.

Awards and prizes[edit]

  • 2001 Project 2001 Award, Islip University, Islip Art Museum, New York, USA
  • 2002 The Dean's Fellowship, Columbia University, New York
  • 2004 Prize, The Rema Hort Mann Foundation, USA
  • 2006 The Cartier Award in conjunction with the Frieze Art Fair
  • 2009 5x5 Castello 09 Prize Finalist, Espai d'Art Contemporani de Castello, Spain
  • 2010 New Vision Programme Selection, CPH: DOX Film Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 2010 The Flaherty International Film Seminar Fellow, NYC, USA
  • 2011 Festival Selection, Planete Doc Film Festival, Warsaw, Poland
  • 2011 Sommerakademie, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland
  • 2018 James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, USA [16]
  • 2019 Kurt-Schwitters-Prize, Hannover, Germany


Rottenberg's work is represented in numerous major museum and public collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Brooklyn Museum, National Gallery of Canada, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and Tel Aviv Museum of Art and Rose Art Museum.[17]


  1. ^ Mika Rottenberg at Andrea Rosen Gallery, http://www.andrearosengallery.com/artists/mika-rottenberg
  2. ^ Mika Rottenberg at Galerie Laurent Godin, https://www.laurentgodin.com/mika-rottenberg
  3. ^ "Mika Rottenberg". Art in America. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  4. ^ "Opening our eyes: Nothing in the world looks quite the same after you've experienced video artist Mika Rottenberg's work". Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  5. ^ Hudson, Judith (Fall 2010). "Mika Rottenberg". BOMB Magazine. New Artist Publications. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  6. ^ Whitney Biennial 2008
  7. ^ "Opening our eyes: Nothing in the world looks quite the same after you've experienced video artist Mika Rottenberg's work". Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  8. ^ "Mika Rottenberg by Judith Hudson - BOMB Magazine". bombmagazine.org. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  9. ^ "Mika Rottenberg by Judith Hudson - BOMB Magazine". bombmagazine.org. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  10. ^ The Reckoning: Women Artists of the New Millennium. Prestel. 2013. p. 65. ISBN 978-3-7913-4759-2.
  11. ^ Mika Rottenberg and Jon Kessler, SEVEN, Performa 11, http://11.performa-arts.org/event/rottenberg-kessler-performa-commission
  12. ^ Smith, Roberta. Mika Rottenberg and Jon Kessler, 'Seven,' The New York Times, November 10, 2011.
  13. ^ Squeeze, Video Works by Mika Rottenberg, Israel Museum, Jerusalem Squeeze Archived 2013-12-02 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Mika Rottenberg". Art in America. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  15. ^ "Mika Rottenberg". Art in America. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  16. ^ "Mika Rottenberg Is the 2018 Winner of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  17. ^ work, Copywritten. "Mika Rottenberg - Artist - Andrea Rosen Gallery". www.andrearosengallery.com. Retrieved 2017-03-12.

External links[edit]