Nostalgia, a new film by the artist OMER FAST, receives New York Debut at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Nostalgia is currently receiving its West Coast premiere at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, in Berkeley, CA.
Omer Fast, Nostalgia III (production still), 2009. Super 16mm film transferred to high-definition video, color, sound; 32:48 minutes. Photograph by Thierry Bal.
Courtesy gb agency, Paris; Postmasters, New York; and Arratia, Beer, Berlin
Omer Fast: Nostalgia is a new three-part film and video installation that continues Omer Fast's fascination with exploring configurations of fact and fiction through narrative and filmic constructions, intertwining modes of documentary and dramatization. In this exhibition, organized by Tina Kukielski, senior curatorial assistant, the work receives its New York debut at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It is presented as part of the 2008 Bucksbaum Award.
Nostalgia (2009) begins with a fragment from an interview between the Omer Fast and an African refugee seeking asylum in London, during which the artist/interviewer is told how the refugee built a trap for catching a partridge back home in his native Nigeria. Themes of cultural and geographical dislocation fall against a backdrop that seamlessly distorts a sense of time, blending past, present, and future in each of the three parts of Nostalgia. The installation itself becomes a metaphor for the traps of storytelling, history, and memory, the experience of making our own truths and building our own identities from these truths.
Omer Fast (b. 1972) tracks individual stories in the midst of larger social or historical circumstances/situations, in this case immigration and asylum. His earlier works include Spielberg’s List (2003), a video installation in which the artist visited Krakow, the city in Poland that served as the setting for Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, and interviewed city residents who had worked as extras on the film. In Godville (2005), the artist interviewed costumed performers at the Colonial Williamsburg living-history museum in Virginia; they describe the lives of their eighteenth-century characters and their own personal lives in ways that seem interchangeable. In The Casting (2007), shown in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, Fast, appearing as himself, interviews a young American army sergeant who recounts two stories, which seem to be his own anguished memories, one about dating a woman while stationed in Germany, and the other of accidentally killing a civilian in Iraq. These two narrative strands are blended as if they had become inextricable in the mind of the narrator.
Writing in The Washington Post at the time of the showing of The Casting in the 2008 Biennial, Blake Gopnik singled out the work as one of the exhibition’s best: “It's no news to anyone that the stories that we tell about ourselves and our times are mostly built from fragments and imaginings. But I can't think of any artist who has managed to depict … the realities of that construction as subtly, as convincingly, or as engrossingly as Fast.”
About the Artist
Omer Fast was born in Jerusalem and currently lives in Berlin. His work has been shown at the Whitney in the 2002 and 2008 Biennials. In addition to receiving the Whitney’s Bucksbaum Award in 2008, he won the Nationalgalerie Prize for Young Art in 2009. Solo exhibitions include UC Berkeley Art Museum; South London Gallery, UK; Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel; Lunds Konsthall, Sweden; Kunstverein Hannover; and the Museum of Modern Art, Vienna. This fall his work is being featured in New York in Performa 09. Fast received his M.F.A. from Hunter College of the City University of New York. Omer Fast’s work has entered the collections of many museums, including the Whitney, the Guggenheim, Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof, the Hirshhorn, the Metropolitan Museum, the Tate, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He has been included in group exhibitions most recently at ZKM, Karlsruhe; Liverpool Biennial 2008; Manifesta 7; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. This is Omer Fast’s first solo museum exhibition in New York.
Nostalgia was co-produced by South London Gallery; the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; and the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie, Berlin.
Major support for Omer Fast: Nostalgia is provided by an endowment from the Martin Bucksbaum Family Foundation.
Omer Fast: Nostalgia is on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art from December 10, 2009, through February 14, 2010.