Extra City presents the first-ever European retrospective of the work of Jewish-Belgian Surrealist and pornographer Justine Frank; this work has not been exhibited in Belgium since her death in 1943. Frank was born in Antwerp, lived in Paris and died in Tel Aviv. Recent inquiries concerning her life, her ethics and her aesthetics continue to yield contradictory responses and create controversy. Frank was active during several crucial junctures of Twentieth Century culture, yet at each of those junctures she seems to have generated antagonism and confusion in those around her. Frank was a Surrealist during the movement’s most radical phase, yet even within that audacious circle they had a problem stomaching her artistic concoction of explicit erotic imagery and Jewish iconography.
The current exhibition contextualizes a large selection of Frank's paintings by including the cinematic portrait Two Women and a Man (2005), directed by the artist and writer who played a major role in Frank’s recent revival from obscurity, Roee Rosen.
This exhibition will be accompanied by the release of the English version of Roee Rosen’s book Sweet Sweat, published by Sternberg Press (Berlin, NY) and co-produced by Extra City. Sweet Sweat is the title of Justine Frank's only book, a scandalous novel, now forgotten, written in French in 1931. This edition of the book also contains Frank’s biography as well as extensive commentary on the historical and cultural contexts of the novel, written by Rosen.
"What are you doing after the orgy?" Jean Baudrillard once perversely asked. I would answer: "Just read Roee Rosen." Rosen came after the orgy, and he knows it. With Sweet Sweat, he is bringing in for a last call all the erotic avant-gardes of the West. But he can only do it with a vengeance – by writing himself into the picture. Erudite, baroque, dazzling, maniacal, and all-encompassing in his approach, Rosen keeps erasing the fine line that separates fiction and truth, imagination and reality, just as Sade and Lautréamont have done before him. But he is also keenly aware that this division doesn’t exist anymore and that all one can do is hallucinate over its existence. What makes his summa erotica erotic is that for him, as for Georges Bataille, pornography is philosophy. Sylvère Lotringer
Roee Rosen is an artist, writer and lecturer; he was born in Israel in 1963, where he currently lives and works.
More information at www.extracity.org
The project is supported by the Brandes Family Art Collection, Rosenfeld Gallery, Tel Aviv, and the Israeli Embassy in Belgium.
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