'The appendix is a strange organ. No discernible purpose or use. Living off the system. Just like a parasite. Don’t you agree? For the most part, it’s harmless. But as you know, it can occasionally inflame and endanger the whole organism. In a perfect society, we’d cut them all out before they can act up. Progress through science. That’s what my superiors say. At least publicly… Imbeciles…' - quote from August, 2016
Omer Fast (°1972) is arguably one of the most intriguing voices in the current landscape bridging film and visual arts. In his mostly filmic work, he plays with the relation between reality and fiction, construction of narrative, linearity and story perspective, and tackles topics such as trauma and conflict through the personal stories of the characters involved. This presentation in STUK is his first solo exhibition in Belgium.
In STUK, Fast’s 3D film August (2016) is taking centre stage. The 15 minute film is based on the life and work of German photographer August Sander (1876 - 1964) and shows Sander at the end of his life, nearly blind and unable to sleep. As he roams his house late at night, figures from the past briefly appear, mostly frozen and ghostlike. At times friendly and at times taunting, the figures eventually drive the artist into the night, where he seeks refuge in nature. This poetic film sketches a touching and almost tangible portrait of this famous photographer, on the border between fact and fiction.
August is preceded by the single-screen piece Looking Pretty for God (After G.W.) (2008) in which North-American funeral directors speak about their work. As the professionals responsible for a deceased person’s last public appearance, funeral directors’ work combines make-up artistry, plastic surgery, grief counseling, event planning, and magic. Conceived as a dry documentary, the film mostly sticks to its subject, but sometimes veers into surreal scenes involving children on a fashion shoot. As the young visitors calmly pose among the coffins, they inexplicably channel the voices of the funeral directors. A surprising but profound link is thus made between two very different worlds both dealing with the creation of images, their artificiality and resonance.
In STUK, Looking Pretty for God (After G.W.) is presented in an elaborate scenography of a two-bedroom family apartment specially created for the exhibition. The small apartment is in the process of being dissolved and packed away, its former residents are missing. Upon close inspection, little clues allude to problems, a crisis, perhaps a catastrophe. Alluding to disappearance as a theatrical act, death as a social ritual, and memory as a collective performance, the installation thus connects the two works in the show.
2016, 15’ (German spoken, English subtitled)
Commissioned by Berliner Festspiele / Martin Gropius Bau Berlin
Looking Pretty for God (After G.W.)
2008, 28’ (English spoken, Dutch subtitles)
Commissioned by Manifesta 7 and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Installation/scenography in STUK thanks to: SPIT Heverlee, Thiry Decor, Thiry Paints, Van Essche-Tits, Jan Herbots, Kringwinkel Hageland, Mercedes De Grande, Jef Peremans, SPIT Wezemaal
Omer Fast is one of the most distinctive film and video artists of his generation. He is best known for his film 5000 Feet is the Best (2011), where he explores the experiences of a Predator drone operator, and his feature length film Remainder (2015) based on an adaptation of Tom McCarthy’s novel of the same name.
In his filmic work he defines a new relationship between reality and fiction, exploring the construction of narratives and the way these stories change when told from different perspectives. He borrows from traditions of documentary, dramatization and fantasy to tell stories of trauma, war and relationships.
Omer Fast’s work has been shown worldwide with solo presentations in a.o. Martin Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2017), Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg (2016), Jeu de Paume, Paris (2016) and Taro Nasu Gallery, Tokyo (2015), and inclusions in recent group shows in MAXXI, Rome (2017), Modern and Contemporary Art Portland Museum, Portland (2017), Casino Luxembourg Forum d’art contemporain, Luxembourg (2017), Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt (2017), Hartware Medien Kunst Verein, Dortmund (2016) and Fondazione Prada, Milano (2016). His work is included in the permanent collections of numerous institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of American Art in New York; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Tate Modern, London; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
Omer Fast holds an MFA from Hunter College in New York City (2000) and a BFA from Tufts University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1995). He lives and works in Berlin. Omer Fast is represented by: DVIR gallery, GB Agency, James Cohan Gallery and Arratia Beer Gallery
Since the Fall of 2015, STUK is presenting solo exhibitions of contemporary visual artists with a particular affinity for the moving image. In the past two years, we have had the pleasure to work with Bjørn Melhus, John Akomfrah, Emre Hüner and Joachim Koester.