Els Dietvorst (°1964) studied at the Royal Academy Antwerp and graduated from Sint- Lukas Brussels University College of Art and Design with a master’s degree in Fine Arts. Initially she expressed herself through sculpture and installation art, but gradually these mediums gave way to drawings, texts and above all video. The focus of her work is communication, inter-human relations and social conflict. It deals with anti-utopian themes like the human condition and the outsider. Her work often takes the form of long-term projects in which she works directly with her surroundings and those living there. Her projects The Return of the Swallows on the Anneessensplein in Brussels and Song for the Price of a Goat and her activities at the secure young offenders’ institution in Mol are good examples of this. Together with artist Orla Barry she set up her Firefly collective, a dynamic workplace for artists, of which she was the director for ten years.
Her work has been shown at M HKA (Antwerp), Witte De With (Rotterdam), the Centre for Fine Arts (Brussels), Kunsthalle Exnergasse (Vienna), La source du lion (Casablanca), Gallery Danielle Arnaud (London) and Nicole Klagsbrun (New York). In 2009 she curated the Time Festival in Ghent with Dirk Braeckman. She is a visiting lecturer at IT Carlow-Wexford Campus, KUL (Leuven) and the KASK in Ghent.
In 2010 she moved from Brussels to the coastal village of Duncormick in Ireland, where she started filming a series of probing video testimonies, which she bundled in 2012 into the web documentary The Black Lamb. Her Irish co-rural-residents testify to a life in the rhythm of the seasons, free of materiality. The short testimonies of TJ Butler – the youngest member of a third generation of cattle dealers – ultimately formed the basis of a larger project: The Rabbit And The Teasel. In this feature-length film, Dietvorst transforms Butler’s story into a modern rural drama, in which the raw reality of a year full of rain drives the farmer to despair. In this film, fiction and autobiographical elements weave themselves into a lyrical tale that drags the viewer into a universe of beauty, death, and decay. She showed it together with other works at the Brussels KunstenFestivaldesArts of 2014. At this moment she is preparing a new film project that will focus on an Irish fishers community that suffers from European maritime agreements.