The Kunstverein Hannover
is presenting the first comprehensive solo exhibition of the Israeli artist Omer Fast (1972) in Germany. The artist, who lives in Berlin, belongs to the most distinctive film- and video-artists of the younger generation. In his film installations, which are mostly set up as multi-channel presentations, narration proves to have an inseparable connection to memory and fiction, facts and imagination. On the basis of six central works, the exhibition offers a multi-faceted insight into his artistic production up to now. A large part of the works are being shown in Germany for the first time.
Fast has already been represented at important international exhibitions, among them during this year alone the Whitney Biennial, the Liverpool Biennial and the Manifesta 7 in Trentino, and during 2007 at the Museum moderner Kunst, MUMOK, in Vienna. For his film The Casting (2007), he received the Bucksbaum Award in April 2008 in the framework of the Whitney Biennial of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. On October 29, Fast was nominated in Berlin for the Prize of the Nationalgalerie for Young Art.
In his elaborately constructed films, Fast juxtaposes various narrative and temporal levels, and he interweaves personal remembrance and reconstructed history, documentation and fiction in an almost inseparable manner. In these works, Fast investigates the transformation of memory in history and the structure of the medias models of truth. He thereby deconstructs the representational conventions of the filmand television industry, and he avoids presenting memory and experience as a linear narrative. The points of departure for his works are frequently precise occurrences which are reconstructed on the basis of research, interviews or found material. His interest is focused on the receptivity of meaning to being shaped: Recorded audio- and visual-material from various sources is fragmented and recombined, so that the event is split up into a multiplicity of significative levels.
For the video CNN Concatenated (2002), Omer Fast broke up countless CNN news broadcasts into individual words which he then used to compose a new broadcast, word for word. The construction of the freshly created text remains visible on the visual level, inasmuch as with each word there is a shift of speakers. From countless speakers there arises a new, anonymous voice which emphasizes the necessity of seeing and experiencing as a counterpart to knowing and understanding.
The video installation Glendive Foley (2000) presents even the documentary view of the building façades of an American suburban residential area in Glendive, Montana as a construction: Omer Fast himself may be seen upon a monitor set up opposite as he synchronizes all the background noises of the suburban idyll.
In De Grote Boodschap (The Big News Item, 2007) Fast uses the simple structure of television series in order to construct, out of several scenes in three different spaces, a repetitive story with no beginning and no end. In each scene, a couple attempts to remember past events or to create correlations out of indefinite evidence. This process is repeated with the viewer: The filmic coherence of the presentation asserts the existence of a narrative coherence among the individual scenes which, however, remains baffling for the viewer.
On the other hand, the montage is clearly visible in the multiple projection The Casting (2007). Omer Fast blends two stories of a US soldier into one single tale and uses richly detailed tableaux vivants to illustrate both the process of narration and the stories themselves. The new story jumps visually between plot locations in Bavaria and in Iraq, and establishes connections between personal experiences and traumas in both the private and military life of the soldier. While the visually brilliant depictions oscillate between seemingly authentic documentation and its artistic staging, the back side of the projections reveals the construction. The blending of the artists two conversations with the soldier, which occurred at two different points in time, becomes apparent through an unsubtle sequence of cuts and deprives that which is being shown of any foundation of authenticity and truthfulness. The work easily creates a confusing tissue of documentation and narration, memory and fantasy, or reality and fiction.
With Take a Deep Breath (2008), Omer Fast makes an aesthetic approach to the realm of Hollywood film productions. Here the process of filming and thereby the production of fiction becomes the theme of the plot and the illusion-machinery. In a self-ironical manner, Omer Fast transforms a documentary eyewitness account into a filmic documentation about a film in which a suicidal assassination attempt is reenacted, and he draws the viewer into the fascinating and astounding cycle of a narrative about narration itself.
If in Omer Fasts previous films the focus was on montage, production and construction of fiction and narration, with Looking Pretty for God (2008) the form of the documentation is elevated to a fictitious-metaphorical level. Without ever actually showing a corpse, undertakers give an account from off-screen about their work of preparing deceased persons for their final presentation. In addition to interior shots of US-American funeral homes, what is mainly to be seen are children at a photoshooting. Fast departs conclusively from the documentary, seemingly neutral point of view when the children seem to be speaking the off-text of the interviewee. Life and death, appearance and reality flow into each other and become interchangeable.