Els Dietvorst studied at Sint-Lucas in Antwerp and obtained a Master's degree in Fine Art at Sint-Lucas in Brussels.

She initially expressed her ideas in sculpture and installation art, but drawing, writing and above all video gradually became her most important media. She focuses on communication, interpersonal relations and social conflict, as well as such anti-utopian topics as the human condition and the outsider. Her work often takes the form of projects lasting several years in which she engages directly with her social environment. Good examples of this are her projects 'Return of the Swallows' around Anneessensplein in Brussels and 'Song for the price of a goat', as well as her activities at the secure juvenile detention centre in Mol. Together with artist Orla Barry she set up the Firefly collective, whose director she was for ten years.

Her work has been shown at M HKA (Antwerp), Witte De With (Rotterdam), Centre for Fine Arts (Brussels), Kunsthalle Exnergasse (Vienna), La source du lion (Casablanca), Gallery Danielle Arnaud (London) and Viviane Klagsbrun (New York). In 2009 she co-curated the Time Festival in Ghent together with Dirk Braeckman. She is visiting lecturer at IT Carlow-Wexford Campus, KUL and the KASK in Ghent.