Mika Rottenberg (born 1976) creates elaborate and imaginative video installations as vehicles to explore ideas of labor, value, and production in our highly capitalistic and globally connected world. Her unique visual narratives are bizarre and beautiful, filtering gritty human experiencesto produce amplified distortions of our current global reality. Rottenberg’s installations are often fabricated from cardboard or found objects and paired with videos of varied production processes, such as the extracting of pearls from mussel shells. The artist focuses on the premises of labor, while simultaneously placing the viewer in the role of a voyeur who is led through narrow corridors and dimly lit factory floors in order to view the world in its churning enormity. Her surreal and immersive installations reveal an absurd collection of empty commodities and highlight the senselessness of global distribution labor and wealth. Rottenberg depicts capitalism and its dependence on mass industrialized production with humor and cheeky exaggeration.


Born in Buenos Aires, Rottenberg spent her formative years in Israel, and then moved to the US where she earned her BA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. She 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. Several solo shows have been dedicated to the artist’s surrealist work: Magasin III, Stockholm, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and New Museum, New York. Rottenberg’s work was also showcased at the Whitney Biennial, New York in 2008.


Related Works

  • Mika Rottenberg addresses themes of labor and value in her interdisciplinary practice. El Anatsui explores similar concepts in his sculpture and printmaking practices, often employing entire villages to complete his monumental projects. View his work.

  • In the collection of our sister gallery, form & concept, Thais Mather also explores roles that women play in contemporary society—from mothers to often-anonymous creators of craft objects. View her work.