Omer Fast

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Through January 3, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Rymer Gallery will present the first Chicago solo exhibition by video artist Omer Fast, winner of the 2008 Whitney Biennial‘s highest honor, the Bucksbaum award.

Born in 1972 in Jerusalem and now based in Berlin, Fast’s reexaminations of past and present histories and narratives have catapulted him onto the international scene. The exhibition marks the U.S. premiere of Fast’s recent work, the single channel video Looking Pretty for God (After GW) (2008), co-commissioned by the School of the Art Institute and the Manifesta Foundation. Filmed primarily in Chicago with assistance from a team of SAIC alumni, Looking Pretty for God combines a fictional photo shoot and interviews with funeral directors, revealing how their occupation is emblematic of modernity’s segregation between work, the worker, and the resulting product as it is subsequently displayed for the public.

Also showing will be the four-channel video The Casting, which intertwines two narratives told to Fast by an American soldier: the story of a destructive love affair in Germany, and an accidental killing in Iraq. Combining near–tableau vivant portrayals of what appear to be scenes from the narratives on one side of the screens, projected onto the reverse are documentary-style shots of Fast, as interviewer, and the soldier as raconteur.

“In the past,” says Fast, “I’ve searched for documentary subjects with problematic credentials: individuals with firsthand experience of inauthentic or staged events. Their stories were then complicated through various editing and installation strategies. Recently, I’ve tried to strip down the process, to create beautiful things that speak about the human condition more simply.”

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