Argentina-born, New York-based artist Mika Rottenberg is devoted to a rigorous practice that combines film, architectural installation, and sculpture to explore ideas of labor and the production of value in our contemporary hyper-capitalist world.
Using traditions of both cinema and sculpture, she seeks out locations around the world where specific systems of production and commerce are in place, such as a pearl factory in China, and a Calexico border town. Through the editing process, and with footage from sets built in her studio, Rottenberg connects seemingly disparate places and things to create elaborate and subversive visual narratives. By weaving fact and fiction together, she highlights the inherent beauty and absurdity of our contemporary existence.
Each of Rottenberg’s video works is situated within a theatrical installation, made up of objects from the lush and bizarre parallel worlds in her videos. Sacks of pearls, deflated pool toys, plastic flowers and sizzling frying pans seem to open a portal into the realm of the work. Her multi-dimensional film projects are often accompanied by standalone sculptural works, connected by allegory.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1976, Rottenberg spent her formative years in Israel then moved to the US where she earned her BA from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and followed this with an MFA at Columbia in 2004.
Rottenberg was the recipient of the 2019 Kurt Schwitters Prize, which recognizes artists who have made a significant contribution to the field of contemporary art. In 2018, she was the winner of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize, which recognizes an artist younger than 50 who has produced a significant body of work and consistently demonstrates exceptional creativity.