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.

Theatre pieces written and directed by Els Dietvorst

019 Memento Mori/Memento Mori, premiered February 2019 in Kaaitheatre Brussels. 2 november Grote Post Ostend.

Films, written and directed by Els Dietvorst

2019 Dogfish, 10”, experimental film.
2017 ‘I watched the white dogs of the dawn’, 53”, creative documentary.
2014 ‘The Rabbit and the Teasel’, 53”, creative documentary
2011-14: ‘The Black lamb’, webdoc.
2010 ‘A walk with ACM’, 10”, docu.
2006 ‘Song for the price of a goat’, 52”, docu.
2008 ‘As long as the blackbird sings’, 40”, creative documentary.
2006 ‘The Apple-Eater’, 25”, creative documentaire.
2005 ‘The return of the swallows, five years in the making’, 54 “.
2004 ‘The King’s children’, 54”
2003 ‘The last night of the night man’, 54 “, creative documentary.
‘The March, the Burden, the Desert, the Boredom, the Anger.’ 76 “, creative documentary.
2002 ‘After the flood’, 60”, experimental.
‘Streettapes’, 20”, experimental.
2001 ‘Illusions’, 3x10”, experimental.
‘Giant’s feet’, 10”, experimental.

Film projections /festivals

2019 ‘I watched the white dogs of the dawn’, Trento filmfestival, Italy.
2018 ‘I watched the white dogs of the dawn’, Jean Rouch filmfestival, winner of the Anthropology and Sustainable Development Award.
2018 ‘I watched the white dogs of the dawn’- Kilmore Quay documentary festival, winner of the jury prize
2016 ‘The Rabbit and the Teasel’ - 5th Ecofalante Environmental Film Festival, Sao Paulo, Brasil
2015 ‘The Rabbit and the Teasel’ - Official selection Visions du Reel, (medium lenght competition, international premiere), Switserland
‘The Rabbit and the Teasel’ - Festival Planète Honnête, France
‘The Rabbit and the Teasel’ - Festival Filmer a tout prix, (Panorame Belge), Belgium
‘The Rabbit and the Teasel’ - Festival dei popoli, chosen for SUI GENERI(S)* a special no-competitive section, Italy.
*Sui generi(s) is a selection of films, shorts, mid-length and features from all over the world representing one of the last trends of the storytelling in documentary cinema: The creative rewriting of the genres in classic cinema.
The Rabbit and the Teasel’, Kilmore Quay documentary festival, Ireland.
The Rabbit and the Teasel’, EMERGENT, Belgium.
2014 Art coeur et merci, the whole story’, performance, Kunstenfestival/Kaaitheater Brussels.
The Rabbit and the Teasel’, private viewing Wexford Art center, Ireland.
The Rabbit and the Teasel’, Blackstairs rural filmfestival, Ireland.
2007 ‘The Apple-Eater, La source du lion/Casablanca(Maroc).
2006 Song for the price of a goat, Outside, Galerij Danielle Arnaud, Londen.
Song for the price of a goat, Check-in-Europe, EPO, Munchen.
2004 ‘The March, the Burden, the Desert, the Boredom, the Anger’, KunstenFESTIVALdesarts, Brussels.
‘Koningskinderen’, Muhka - Museum van Hedendaags Kunst Antwerp.
2003 Contour – 1st Biennial for Video Art, Mechelen, Belgium.

Solo-exhibitions (selection)

2019 ‘Wintrum Frod, MUZEE,Ostend Belgium.
2016 Panache, Antwerp, ‘Driftwood’, from 16/01 till 26/02/2016.
2014 Argos, Brussels, ”One Was Killed For Beauty, The Other One Was Shot, The Two Others Died Naturally.”from 03/05 till 29/05/2014.
2010 ‘Art coeur et merci’ , Museum Guislain/Ghent.
2008 ‘Skull’, Muhka - Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst. Antwerp.
2004 ‘The return of the swallows’, Palais de beaux art(BOZAR), Brussels.
2003 ‘De laatste nacht van de nachtman’ –KunstenFESTIVALdesarts, Brussels.‘Dreadlockcity’ - de begane grond, Utrecht (NL).
2002 Artist-in-residence, Brugge 2002, Cultural capital of Europe.
Attachment+, incubatieproject Kunsthalle Lophem.
‘De terugkeer van de zwaluwen’ - BsBbis Brussels.
2000 Skull1, ism MUHKA, atelier Brasschaat.
1999 The Scavenger’s Daughter & White Pompei (with Orla Barry)HAL, Antwerpen


2018 Bare Root, Wexford Ireland.
2016 Burning Ice 10-Kaaitheater, Brussels
2015 Moscow biennale of contemporary art.
2014 Museum M, drawings from the CERA collection, Louvain, Belgium.
2013 THE BLACK LAMB, presentation in Burning ice, Kaaitheater, Brussels.
2012 THE BLACK LAMB, presentation in Burning ice, Kaaitheater, Brussels.
2009 ‘Songlines’- Mechelen
‘The Stone Road’-Kunstenfestivaldesarts&Argos, Brussels.
Presentation ‘Time is a book’- Timefestival/Ghent.
2008 The Stone Road. (On Track. Off Track. Memorising the Mid-World. Walking the Fifth-Space.) WUK, Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna.
2006 Making Sense in the City, Aula, Ghent University
Outdoors, Danielle Arnaud Contemporary Art, London.

Curator for the following projects

2006 Making sense in the City/Gent
2009 Songlines/Mechelen.
2009 Time is a book/Gent.

Artist in residence

From September till February 2016 she was selected for the third time by the Arts Department of Wexford County Council as an artist-in-residence for the primary school Residency Programme, Living Art project.


2000-2010 Artistic director of Firefly.
2004-2008 selected to be a member of the Arts council
2014-2016 Member of the Artist in community scheme, Co. Wexford.

Guest lecturer, workshops, masterclasses

2019 RAFA, Masterclass: ‘Original thinking is lonely’.
2018 INSIST-2 Social Innovation and the Arts: the Role of Plasticity
2016 St. Lucas school of arts, Antwerp (B)
2014 BAC-Gotland, Sweden.
2013 KASK Gent.
SIC Brussels.
2012 KASK Gent.
IT CARLOW-Wexford.
2011 KASK Gent.
IT CARLOW-Wexford.
2010 KASK Gent.
Sint Lucas Ghent.
2009 Workshop ‘The Stone Road’, Kunstenfestivaldesarts Brussel.
Workshop and lecture ‘Art and engagement ,‘Sint Lucas Brussel.
Lecture ‘The artist’s practice’, Academie Antwerpen.
2008 Lecture ‘Art in an urban environment’, University Leuven.
2006 Advising researcer at VUB : ‘Cosmopolis, city culture society’.
Advising guest teacher: Lectoraat Community arts/Rotterdam.
2006 Workshops and lecture, Invited by Pedro Abramo, University of Rio de Janeiro.
2005 Lecture ‘The return of the swallows’ University Gent.
2004 Lecture ‘In limbo’ Museum of modern art (MUHKA) Antwerpen.
2003 Lecture and workshop ‘ Art and social change’ Kunstenfestivaldesarts,Brussel.
2002 Lecture: ‘On social changes’, Bruges cultural capital 2002.
Lecture: ‘In Limbo’, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens.

Books published

2014 ED2, Argos, Brussel.
2006 ED, Vlaamse gemeenschap, Brussel.
2004 Koningskinderen, Mol.
2000 No Shooting (met O.Barry), Provinciaal Centrum voor Beeldende Kunsten – Hasselt.


2008 Bienvenue, Firefly.
2004 Cahiers, Solitary walker, 2 editions, Firefly.
1999 The Return of the Swallows, 3 editions, Firefly.

Texts published about my work

Meade Iris.(2012) Participatory arts, what is the real social value?
Pink, S.(2009). Visual interventions
Moulaert, F.(2004)THE RETURN OF THE SWALLOWS.Downloading social capital from the ‘netted’ City?
‘City’, volume 8, July 2004: ’The return of the swallows: From urban hardship to identity retrieval’, Frank Moulaert
"Nous (ne) finirons pas au musée amusé”, 16-04-2004, Bart De Baere in Janus
Veerle De Vos in Kunst Nu, “We are all swallows”, Film of Els Dietvorst in Artsfestival Brussels, april 2004.
An van. Dienderen in Etcetera, “Collectivity in visual arts., april 2004.
Phd An van. Dienderen, “Production Process as a Site of Critique. Ethnographic Research into the Mediated Interactions during (documentary) Film Productions”, Universiteit Gent, 2003-2004
Alledaags is niet gewoon, “De terugkeer van de zwaluwen. Een multimediaproject in de Brusselse Anneessenswijk”, oktober 2002.
Els Dietvorst in Cahier Kunstsmaken, “The return of the swallows”, augustus 2002.
Els Dietvorst in Kunst Nu, “Een zwaluw tussen de meeuwen. Els Dietvorst over de maatschappelijke rol van de kunsten”, april 2002.