Sweet Sweat

Justine FrankRoee Rosen


Book, 14.9 x 20 cm, 236 p, language: English, translation from Hebrew, publisher: Berlin/Antwerpen : Sternberg Press/Extra City - Center for Contemporary Art (originally published by Babel Publishers, Tel Aviv, 2001), ISBN: 978-1-933128-66-5.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2024/815).

Literary synopsis

Sweet Sweat, the only novel by Jewish-Belgian Surrealist and pornographer Justine Frank, is unusual, to say the least—a blend of feminism, pornography, Judaism, and art, written in French in 1931. Its heroine is a Jewish girl named Rachel, born in the South of France, who has an outstanding talent for debauchery and crime. She takes up with the sybaritic Count Urdukas and sets out with him on an odyssey of pleasure and corruption marked by bizarre events in which horror and humor mingle. This comprehensive new edition of Frank’s novel includes an extensive biography by Israeli American writer and artist Roee Rosen and a timeline tracing key moments in Frank’s life, providing a definitive analysis of this once-scandalous novel and its historical and cultural contexts. The third text in the book is a theoretical essay pursuing many of the aspects at play in her book and in her art.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

The book can, of course, be read separately, but it is also a part of a project encompassing a variety of media (paintings, photographs, a video etc.). Sweet Sweat is an attempt to defy not only the divides between literature and art, but between the imagined and the real as well. In 2009, Extra City held an exhibition that contextualized a large selection of Frank's paintings by including the cinematic portrait Two Women and a Man (2005), directed by the artist and writer Roee Rosen.

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