Rivka Rinn

Article Bio Works Projects Images
flight, history, holocaust, mobility, speed
Visual Arts (photography)
Middle East, Europe, Western, Europe, Southern
Israel, Germany, Italy
Berlin, Rome, Tel Aviv
created on:
May 13, 2003
last changed on:
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Caught on the wing

The Israeli artist Rivka Rinn is a poet of speed whose photographs are taken at 80 to 1100 km/hr from trains and planes. Cities and lands blur along roads and rivers in spaces swiftly crossed. Her photographs are about our fleeting contact with reality in daily life but also about deportation and fleeing. The topography of landscapes is laden with historical meaning.
"Rivka Rinn was born in Nepal to a Polish diplomat and a Russian mother who inserted the Tibetan tradition of curing into her medical practise." This is the start of a biographical text with white letters in relief on an enamel plaque printed in the triptych Dislocated CV (1997) from Rivka Rinn. The middle panel shows the roof of a railway coach with barred windows. A second biographical description follows, which in a few sentences takes us through several continents, cultures and historical spaces. "Rivka Rinn was born in Sun Prairie County, Wisconsin to a family related to Ida van Eyck, the mother of Toto O’Keeffe. She was raised in Europe, where her father, a former student of the Bauhaus in Weimar, collected a large number of photographs, mostly from Laszlo Moholy-Nagy." In the last sentence: "She lives and works in Berlin, Ravensbrück and Tel Aviv", the second place, known for its concentration camp, refers plainly to the holocaust. The expulsion and killing of European Jews haunts the wide context of the fictive biographies, as if persecution were the main cause of globe-trotting.

On moving to Berlin at the age of 44, this lively artist felt for the first time in her life very depressed. The train which brought her to Berlin, the IC 545, was named after the poetess Else Lasker-Schüler, who during the era of National Socialism was forced to leave Germany to live in Tel Aviv. No day passed without Rivka Rinn hearing of discussions about how to come to terms with the fascist past and the annihilation of Jewish life – themes which were now much closer to her than in her former places of residence in Tel Aviv, Vienna and Florence. "I couldn´t step out of the door, never mind cross the street, without seeing connections," she recalls. If an S-Bahn train went to Wannsee, she thought of the so-called Wannsee conference, where in 1942 the deportation of European Jews was organised. If someone spoke of the reshaping of the Reichstag, it recalled das Dritte Reich. Soon she hardly knew a place not associated with an event in those years of terror. Rivka Rinn had not thought that the city would soon be full of these recollections, but still she remained and even today has an atelier in the borough Kreuzberg, where she works when not in Rome.

Her photographs of Berlin, whose videos and plaques have become a diary about our daily journeys and the speeding up of our perceptions, fall into two groups: One of these is connected with historical names, and the other reveals the growing network of her personal acquaintances. In her video "Velocity Particles" (1997/2001) the two groups relate to each other at a rate of 8 pictures/sec and can no longer be clearly separated. The viewer experiences nothing of the connection of the quickly passing places with the history of annihilation, but the pace induces a loss of the sense of reality. Life is now typified by being on the move and being unable to keep a grip on things.

Rivka Rinn takes photographs on the way to the supermarket and on the way to Rome, through windscreens beaded with rain and through panorama windows of lobbies, in motorway tunnels and at checkpoints, on railway platforms and runways, and on and under bridges. Modern mobility, undermining our sense of reality, is thus given a new signature. The frames of glass, lit-boxes, enamel, metal and canvas seem to offer these fugitive images a chance of more permanence. Rivka Rinn’s pictures are not carefully planned but are striking in their own beauty and lack of self-consciousness. Again and again she sifts her growing collection and discovers among her spontaneous shots certain images which, in another context, become precisely relevant. They are frozen moments which, taken together, have a ghostly and lasting presence.

Born 1950 in Tel Aviv, Rivka Rinn began as a painter. One of her first ateliers lay in the desert below a radar station in which she did her military service. On one of the last pictures which she painted in 1987, she sketched the spaceship Voyager I flying through an endless sea of colour. On gazing at her series of photographs today, one can easily believe that she, too, is endlessly orbiting the Earth and receiving signals from not only various places but also various times.

It is also with a painter’s eye that she chooses from her archive the photographs for an exhibition. For two or three years she has been enlarging extracts from photographs in ink-jet print-outs on foil, whose size is calculated to match that of exhibition windows. The coloured pixels twinkle like the points of colour in French pointilliste paintings. At night the unreal landscapes glow like stills from a film. In Salzburg she showed a shot of Johannesburg, in the House of World Cultures in Berlin there glowed the skyline of Tel Aviv, and on Linienstraße in the Berlin gallery borough there hung the Brooklyn Bridge. "The projection of remote landscapes onto familiar surroundings destabilises the harmony of the existing architecture. The projection is a copy of something alien, and on being transferred it become an integral part of the urban landscape," says Rivka Rinn in the catalogue of the exhibition "Homeland Art". She is at home in not so much a particular place as in her sequences of images, which bring together places worlds apart. Each of these places in the landscape of the present draws further images out of the viewer’s own gallery of memories.

Author: Katrin Bettina Müller 


Rivka Rinn was born 1950 in Tel Aviv, where she then grew up. She studied in Vienna (1976 – 1980) at the Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst (High School for Applied Art). In 1981 she began teaching at the Summer Academy for Visual Art in Salzburg, and is doing so now as a professor. From 1986 to 1994 she lived in Florence. Her photographic work grew up at the end of the 80s, and in 1994 she moved to Berlin, where she still works when not in Rome.


Rivka Rinn, View Through

Published Written,
catalogue, Internationale Sommerakademie für Bildende Kunst, Edition Galerie Fotohof, Salzburg

Rivka Rinn, Time Station

Published Written,
catalogue, Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin und Neue Galeria am Landesmuseum Joanneum/ Graz and Galerie Gaudens Pedit/Lienz

Rivka Rinn, Olympus Trip

Published Written,
Stamperia Artistica Nazionale, Turin

Rivka Rinn

Published Written,
catalogue, Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat-Gan

Group Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2005 "Lichtkunst aus Kunstlicht“, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany 2004 "Art Basel“, Editionen und Multiples Artelier, Graz, Austria "Mehr Licht“, Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna, Austria "Support“, Neue Galerie, Graz, Austria 2003 "Targetti Light Art Collection“, Chelsea Art Museum, New York, USA "Traffic - Ethnografie der Straße“, Kunsthaus, Essen, Germany "Overdrive“, Galerie der Stadt Tuttlingen, Tuttlingen, Germany "Overdrive“, Galerie der Stadt Sindelfingen, Sindelfingen, Germany 2002 "What about Hegel (and you)?", Brigitte March Galerie, Stuttgart, Germany "The Art of Light”, The Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland "Geschichten aus 2002 Nächten“, Brigitte March, Stuttgart, Germany 2001 "ex machina“, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Berlin, Germany "Targetti Art Light Collection“, MAERZgalerie, Leipzig, Germany "Area Di Transito“, Bladassani e Tognozzi, Sesto Fiorentina, Florence, Italy "Art Light Collection”, Sainte Chapelle, Paris, France 2000 "Durchreise“, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany "Heimat Kunst“, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany "Video Circle 2000“, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany 1999 "The Biennial of Photography”, Museum del Imagen, Mexico City, Mexico "Painting Now! - Part II”, Galerie Schüppenhauer, Cologne, Germany 1998 "Positionen Israel“, Kunsthaus Berlin, Berlin, Germany "Targetti Art Light Project“, Santa Croce, Firenze, Italy "Kunst ohne Unikat, Steirischer Herbst“, Künstler Haus, Graz, Austria 1997 "In Medias Res“, Atatürk Culturel Center, Istanbul, Turkey "II. Biennial of Johannesburg“, Biennial of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa 1996 "Hauptnutzfläche“, Siemens AG, Munich, Germany "Station Deutschland“, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany 1995 "Club Berlin“, Biennial Venice, Venice, Italy "Duell Dual“, Galerie Wunschik, Mönchengladbach, Germany 1993 "Landschaften – Reisebilder“, Galerie Susanne Albrecht, Munich, Germany "Landscape“, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel 1992 "Passage dans une ruine potentielle“, Rue Paradier, Paris, France 1991 "La Terra di Semifonte“, Palazzo dei Vini, Florence, Italy "Grandes Lignes“, Gare de L’Est, Paris, France

Solo Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2005 "Andrea Morein / Rivka Rinn“, Goethe-Institut, Brussel, Belgium 2004 "Rivka Rinn“, Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland "Miao | Rivka”, White Space at 798”, Alexander Ochs Galleries, Bijing, China 2001 "E-scape”, Zuni Arte Contemporanea, Ferrara, Italy "Accelerated Heavens”, Achshav.Now Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany 1999 "Photo Park“, Galerie Kampl, Munich, Germany "Rivka Rinn - Photoszene Köln“, Galerie Schüppenhauer, Cologne, Germany 1998 "View Through“, Galerie Fotohof, Salzburg, Austria "Inter View“, Projektraum Matthias Kampl, Berlin, Germany 1997 "Time Station“, Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin, Germany "Artists in Residence“, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, Austria "Galerie Gaudens Pedit“, Linz, Austria "Traffico Intenson“, Galerie Andreas Weiss, Berlin, Germany 1995 "Vectors“, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany 1993 "Büro Orange“, Siemens AG, Munich, Germany "Memory in Real Time“, Gallery Artelier, Frankfurt, Germany 1988 "Romulus Express“, Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel 1987 Galleria Mazzocchi, Parma, Italy 1986 Galleria Schema, Florenz, Italy 1985 Art Brasil Gallery, São Paulo, Brazil 1984 Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Festival of Vision: Hongkong – Berlin

(27 July 00 - 10 September 00)

Homeland Art (HeimatKunst)

Cultural Diversity in Germany

(01 April 00 - 02 July 00)
Work: Title Unknown