Stefan Roloff

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Stefan Roloff (born 1953 Berlin) is a painter, video artist and filmmaker, living and working in New York and Berlin. He is a pioneer of digital video and photography.[1]


In 1984, Stefan Roloff was invited to experiment on prototypes of digital video and imaging computers at the New York Institute of Technology, where he pioneered the blending of painting with digital media. On their Images 2 system he created Big Fire, the first digital video done by an artist. An updated version of that video from 1986 was shown at the Bronx Museum of the Arts [2] in 1987. Also at NYIT, he developed Moving Painting, a process in which a painting is set in motion by filming each stage that it passes through during its creation. He received international recognition for this concept and collaborated with musicians Suicide, Martin Rev,[3] Andrew Cyrille and Peter Gabriel, with whom he produced FACE, the prototype for his video Sledgehammer, as well as the video ZAAR, for Gabriel's album Passion.[4][5] In 1989, Roloff received a Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts[6] for his digital work.

He has since produced and directed numerous videos and two documentary films. Each film is accompanied by an art installation, providing a three-dimensional space which the viewers can enter for a direct experience of the subject matter. From 1989 to 1999, he worked on his first documentary film “Seeds”. Traveling through remote areas of West Virginia, he followed the story of a 22- year old woman who committed suicide in 1981 in an isolation cell at the State Prison for Women. The film was combined with an installation, “Pence Springs Resort”, a life-size three-dimensional photographic rendering of the isolation cell which the viewers could physically enter. It was shown at Threadwaxing Space in New York in 1995.[7]

In 1997 he began to work on his second documentary film The Red Orchestra,[8] a portrait of his late father, Helmut Roloff, a resistance fighter against the Nazis. It was nominated for best foreign film 2005 by the US Women Critics Circle. For the first time it told the true story of the “Red Orchestra”, a resistance group that was slandered during the cold war by secret services and historians as a Communist spy network. For this film, Stefan Roloff received a 2002 New York City Media Arts grant from the Jerome Foundation.[9] He also wrote a book in German, “Die Rote Kapelle”, published by Ullstein in 2002. In 2015, through an initiative by Stefan Roloff, Gustin Reichbach and Ellen Meyers, The Red Orchestra was incorporated into the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's permanent exhibition. In addition, Roloff's source interviews with members of the Red Orchestra are accessible on the HMM's database.[10]

Recently, Stefan Roloff has produced 60 interviews with former citizens of the GDR which provide a detailed look at life behind the Iron Curtain. He also collaborates with Rock musician Martin Rev on an audiovisual live concept, based on Roloff's visuals and Rev's music.[3] Roloff's video installation "Life in the Death Zone" is permanently installed at Villa Schöningen.[11]

Selected exhibitions[edit]

  • Life in the Death Zone, permanent video installation, Zeitgeschichtliches Forum, Leipzig, Germany (2018)
  • Beyond the Wall, Westside Gallery Berlin, Germany (2017)
  • Flight, Westwendischer Kunstverein Gartow, Germany (2017)
  • Lindenhotel, permanent video installation, Lindenstrasse 54, Potsdam, Germany (2014)
  • Chairing the Meeting, Kunsthalle Brennabor, Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany (2014)
  • The Kindness of Strangers, Summerhall, Edinburgh, UK (2014)
  • Life in the Death Zone, permanent video installation, Villa Schöningen, Potsdam, Germany (2013)
  • Assimilating into Catastrophe, Kulturpark, Berlin (2012)
  • 4 Video Projections, Ninna-ji, Kyoto, Japan (2011)
  • Lindenhotel – Bob B. at Rencontres Internationals, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Haus der Kulturen, Berlin (2010 / 2011)
  • XVII Rohkunstbau, Schloss Marquardt, Germany (2010)
  • Lindenhotel, Lindenstr. 54, Potsdam, Germany (2010)
  • Layers, Galerie Deschler, Berlin, Germany (2009)
  • Stefan Roloff, Pierogi Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany (2008)
  • Prinz Albrecht Str. 8, Altes Rathaus, Potsdam, Germany (2007)
  • Eins Plus Eins, SPI Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany (2005)
  • Altered States, Kunsthalle Dominikanerkirche|Kunsthalle Osnabrück, Germany (2004)
  • So Into You, Galerie Deschler, Berlin, Germany (2003)
  • When 6 Is 9, Deutsch Amerikanisches Institut in Saarbrücken, Tübingen, Nürnberg, Germany (2001/2002)
  • When 6 Is 9, Galerie Deschler, Berlin, Germany (1999)
  • Pence Springs Resort, Thread Waxing Space, NYC, USA (1995)
  • Our Daily Planet, Casa de Cultura Basauri, Bilbao, Spain (1992)
  • Stefan Roloff. 1982-1992,The Seed Hall, Tokyo, Japan (1992)
  • Niveles, Palau Solleric, Palma de Mallorca, Spain (1991)
  • Methamorphosis, Casa de Cultura Laura Alvim, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil (1990)
  • Still Life and Methamorphosis,Evan Janis Fine Art, NYC, USA (1990)
  • Photomorphosis, Montgomery College, Maryland, USA (1990)
  • Moving Painting, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (1989)
  • Paper Murals, Fashion Moda, NYC, USA (1983)
  • Gedankengut in Öl und Gummi, Schloß Gartow, Gartow, Germany (1982)

Video Compilations[edit]

  • 2004: Play - Peter Gabriel
  • 1992: all about US - Peter Gabriel [4]
  • 1990: Black Box - Suicide


  • 2015 Double Trouble - When 6 is 9 Productions
  • 2011 Das Schweigen - When 6 is 9 Productions
  • 2010 Lindenhotel - When 6 is 9 Productions
  • 2009 Let There be Light - When 6 is 9 Productions, Rohkunstbau
  • 2007 Memory Breakdown - When 6 is 9 Productions, Soundtrack: Martin Rev
  • 2004 Die Rote Kapelle (The Red Orchestra)[8] - ZDF, When 6 is 9 Productions, Hybrid Films, Soundtrack: Martin Rev
  • 1999 Cabezera Raquel - Hervè Hachuel
  • 1999 Seeds - Audra Allen, Stefan Roloff, Soundtrack: Peter Gordon
  • 1997 Mirage - When 6 is 9 Productions, WW Productions, Soundtrack: Martin Rev
  • 1997 Liquid - When 6 is 9 Productions, WW Productions, Soundtrack: Martin Rev
  • 1995 The Year of the Stone - Audra Allen, Stefan Roloff
  • 1993 Meditation in the Roaring Twenties - Eva Müller, When 6 is 9 Productions
  • 1992 What's Going on? - Stageways Productions, Soundtrack: Martin Rev
  • 1992 The Visit -REBO High Definition Studio, Stefan Roloff, Soundtrack: Martin Rev
  • 1989 Dominic Christ - Video, Suicide LP "A Way of Life", When 6 is 9 Productions
  • 1989 Surrender - Video, Suicide LP "A Way of Life", When 6 is 9 Productions
  • 1989 ZAAR - Video, Peter Gabriel LP "Passion"
  • 1989 Fireball - Stefan Roloff, Eric Spiegel, Soundtrack: Jim O’Rourke
  • 1989 Still Life- When 6 is 9 Productions, Eric Spiegel, Soundtrack: Martin Rev
  • 1987 Lunch - When 6 is 9 Productions, Eric Spiegel
  • 1987 Leben und Tod von Ludwig van Beethoven - When 6 is 9 Productions, Soundtrack: Joe Robiller
  • 1987 The Room Mate, When 6 is 9 Productions, Soundtrack: Walter Steding
  • 1985 Big Fire - NYIT, Stefan Roloff, Soundtrack: Andrew Cyrille
  • 1984 The Face - NYIT, Peter Gabriel, Stefan Roloff
  • 1980 Fopo Fever - Stefan Roloff, Soundtrack: Anja Kiessling, Leo Lehr, Kurt Herkenberg
  • 1978 Die Dicke - Stefan Roloff, Soundtrack: Joe Robiller, Anja Kiessling, Leo Lehr

Books, Catalogues[edit]

  • Beyond the Wall, Kunst darf alles e. V. Berlin, Germany (2017)
  • Flight, Westwendischer Kunstverein Gartow, Germany (2017)
  • Linden Hotel, Potsdam Museum and Fördergemeinschaft Lindenstrasse 54 (2010)
  • XVII Rohkunstbau', Berlin (2010), ISBN 978-3-89930-306-3
  • Stefan Roloff, Videos 1978–2008, Galerie Deschler, Berlin (2008), ISBN 3-00-026885-5
  • Stefan Roloff: Veränderte Zustände/Altered States, Rasch Verlag, Bramsche (2004), ISBN 3-89946-019-7
  • Rote Kapelle. Die Widerstandsgruppe im Dritten Reich und die Geschichte Helmut Roloffs., Econ Ullstein List Verlag, München (2002), ISBN 3-550-07543-X
  • When 6 Is 9, Galerie Deschler, Berlin (2001)
  • Volume Three, Pierogi Press, New York (1999)
  • Transsexual Exprès, Bilboarte, Bilbao (1998)
  • Pence Springs Resort, Thread Waxing Space, New York (1995)
  • Nuestro Planeta Cotidiano, Casa de Cultura Basauri, Bilbao (1992)
  • Stefan Roloff, Works, 1982-92 The Seed Hall, Tokyo(1992)
  • Atlas, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Canada (1990)
  • The Photography of Invention, National Museum of American Art, Washington DC (1989)
  • Dritte Videonale, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn (1988)
  • The Second Emerging Expression Biennial, Bronx Museum, New York (1988)
  • Stefan Roloff, Ausstellungen Schinckestraße, Berlin (1987)
  • Digital Visions, Everson Museum, New York (1987)
  • Zweite Videonale, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn (1986)
  • Stefan Roloff, Art Palace, New York (1984)
  • Internationales Plastik Symposium, Städtisches Museum Lindau, Lindau (1983)
  • Dimensionen des Plastischen, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Berlin (1981)
  • Gedankengut in Öl und Gummi, Schloß Gartow, Gartow (1981)


  1. ^ Smith, Joshua (March 1989). Photography of Invention. The MIT Press.
  2. ^ Cancel, Luis R. (1987). The Artist and the Computer (PDF).
  3. ^ a b Rev, Martin (1984–2010). "R&R". When 6 is 9 Productions.
  4. ^ a b Gabriel, Peter (1993). "All About Us". World Cat.
  5. ^ "Good Morning America".
  6. ^ "Artists' Fellowships" (PDF). 2003-07-06.
  7. ^ Pence Springs Resort. 1995.
  8. ^ a b Martel, Ned (March 2, 2005). "Fighting the Dangerous Fight Under the Nazis". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "New York City Film and Video Grant". 2002.
  10. ^ "Holocaust Memorial".
  11. ^ "Leben im Todesstreifen" (in German).

External links[edit]