Els Dietvorst (°1964) is a socially engaged artist, who uses her visual work as a means of creating social involvement. She graduates from the Sint Lucas School of Arts in Antwerp and holds a Master of Fine Art from the LUCA School of Arts in Brussels. Dietvorst lives and works in Ireland since 2010.
Even in her socially focussed work, Dietvorst finds ways of expressing herself in a highly personal manner, making use of an incredibly wide range of media; along with sculptures and installations, drawing, writing and recently through the creation of visual installations. Her work is focussed on the myriad forms of social communication and interpersonal relationships and conflicts, which she expresses in striking social-artistic projects, such as The Return of the Swallows in the Brussels Midi-neighbourhood. The position of the outsider is something Dietvorst specifically focuses on, directing her gaze – sometimes over the span of several years – towards those persons and events that would otherwise go unnoticed. At any given moment she can be found collecting these types of snippets and fragments, assembling them in her pieces. This isn't necessarily to point out injustice, rather her purpose is to personally develop an understanding, to keep track of the bigger picture, and contextualise different events. Her summaries of reality are a visual archive, serving as both mirror and a chamber for reflection.
Her sculptures too, − crafted from perishable materials such as wood and loam − direct the gaze towards social circumstances such as war, famine and the refugee issue. This is how, for example, the “Skulls” series was created. The skulls allude to the violence of war, but also point towards the existential experience of dying, a process shared and suffered by all.
In september 2015 she was selected for the Moscow Biennal of Contemporary Art along with Luc Tuymans(B), Fabrice Hyber(F), Liam Gillick(USA), Gabriel Lester(NL), Li Mu(CN).
In 2017 she was chosen by an international jury to win the 2-yearly Evens Arts Prize 2017.
This year she won the Prize for Anthropology and Sustainable Development at the prestigious International Jean Rouch festival in Paris with her documentary film 'I watched the white dogs of the dawn'.
On this moment she is working on a Phd: ‘Partisans of the real’ at the Royal Academy/University of Antwerp.