Presented for the first time at the Indianapolis Museum of Art
since its acquisition in 2008, Berlin-based artist Omer Fasts video
installation The Casting (2007) will be displayed in the IMAs McCormack Forefront Galleries from September 11, 2009 to March 14, 2010. Fasts riveting video pieces together fragments of a U.S. soldiers conflicted memories following his tour in Iraq.
The IMA will be the first U.S. museum to exhibit The Casting since it premiered at the 2008 Whitney Biennial, where it garnered much critical acclaim. Fast edited the 14-minute, fourchannel video installation from conversations he recorded in Texas in 2006 with a young U.S. Army sergeant preparing to depart for his second tour in Iraq. The sergeant recounts two stories, which Fast artfully splices and interweaves, blending the narrators recollections of a date with an unstable woman and the accidental shooting of a civilian in Iraq.
The account shifts abruptly between the two stories, juxtaposing footage of the original interview between Fast and the sergeant with dramatic re-enactment of the interwoven tale performed in silent tableaux. Projected onto the front and rear sides of two hanging screens, the installation allows the visitor views of only the original footage or the re-enactment at one time. By walking around the screens completely, the visitor gains an understanding of the construction of the installation and the multi-layered nature of the account.
The story is framed by Fasts exchanges with the sergeant during the initiation and conclusion of the interview, interpreted in the re-enactment as a casting director asking questions of the actor who will play the sergeant. In the storytelling, Fast slips between the roles of interviewer, artist, therapist and film director, concluding The Casting with the final spliced-together statement: Im more interested in
the way that experience is basically turned into memory and then the way that memories become stories, the way that memories become
mediated; they get recorded and broadcast and things like that.
So concisely stated here, Fasts consideration of how stories, memory and histories are constructed and reconstructed has been a focus for the artist throughout his career. Fasts 2004 two-channel video installation Godville, displayed in a 2007 solo exhibition in the IMAs Carmen & Mark Holeman Video Gallery, splices together videotaped interviews with 18th-century character interpretersin and out of characterin Colonial Williamsburg. In both Godville and The Casting, Fast betrays a sharp interest in the distance between lived experience and the way that it is interpreted, given meaning and recounted.
The Casting is a profound and engrossing work that delves into the nuanced mechanics of storytelling and recollection, said Sarah Urist Green, assistant curator of contemporary art at the IMA. The viewer is both physically and psychologically immersed in the sergeants account, with the physical plan of the installation deftly enhancing the sensation that lifeand its retellingis an utterly complex and fractured experience.
Fast was born in Jerusalem, Israel and received his MFA from Hunter College of the City University of New York in 2000. His films have been recently exhibited in Vienna, London, Paris, Washington D.C., and Minneapolis. Fasts recent films include Godville (2004) as well as Spielbergs List (2003), in which Fast interviews Polish extras from the 1993 film Schindlers List, and CNN Concatenated (2002), a film that repurposes television footage of news reporters. Fasts work was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial as well as the 2008 Whitney Biennial in conjunction with the Park Avenue Armory, where he was selected from among the exhibitions 81 artists as the recipient of the 2008 Bucksbaum Award. Fast currently lives in Berlin, Germany.