Artist: Keren Cytter
Venue: Schau Ort, Zurich
Exhibition Title: Don’t Trust Americans
Date: August 30 – October 13, 2012
Vengeance, Episode 2 and Episode 3, 2012. Rear projection.
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Schau Ort, Zurich
SCHAU ORT gallery is pleased to announce our second solo show with the internationally renowned artist Keren Cytter (*1977). In her exhibition Don’t trust Americans, the Israeli artist presents her latest video work: two episodes of a so far unfinished multi-part series. In her new work, Keren Cytter, who recently moved to New York, comes to terms with her own currently changing life situation. In particular, she takes up the US TV-format of the “daily soap” and processes classic themes of drama in personal relationships: love, envy, betrayal, and vengeance.
In contrast to older Cytter works such as The Date Series (2004), these new video episodes are less existential in nature and seem almost comical. What is also new about the exhibited videos is their elaborate production. While previous works were often characterized by an intimate interior, Cytter stages these new episodes in the rich settings of Staten Island and New Jersey. The scenes were filmed at 15 different places, including restaurants, hotels, parks, apartments, and streets. A total of 50 actors, most of them professionals, fulfill their social functions with blank faces. They provide a projection space for the beliefs and stereotypes of each viewer.
Cytter takes up the concept of “friendenemies”, which has become popular in American soaps: two women, previously friends, get caught up in a perfidious contest in their daily office life, turning them into bitter rivals. In this conflict, both women are like puppets; driven only by the pressure of competition and the obsession with perfection. Not only the characters seem interchangeable, the story also stays intentionally superficial to grant the viewer a low-threshold access into the events. As opposed to previous Cytter videos, the trivial dialogs of the series are not supplied with subtitles. The artist reviews impressions and clichés of the US American society, which have become part of our collective memory – not least by daily soaps such as Dallas or The Denver Clan. Cytter examines cut and dried patterns deeply rooted in pop-cultural visual memory and analyzes the influence of mass media on behavior patterns and prejudices in contemporary society.
Cytter also reflects on the medium of “video” itself, by using the outdated method of rear projection. The change of scene by means of different images projected onto the rear wall of the performers’ space brings together several factors of Cytter’s œuvre. Presenting theatrical moments in a stage-like setting can be regarded as one of the leading elements in the artist’s effort to mix reality and fiction. Sentences displayed on a canvas behind the actors seem like comments on scenes from silent-movies. The nostalgic slowness of the images is accompanied by Steve Kaufmann’s soundtrack. With chopped-off, slightly dis-harmonious piano chords and the driving sound of chimes, the experienced jazz musician creates a feeling of tension. At the same time, improvised melodious saxophone music conjures up the atmosphere of a dimly lit New York bar. By creating references between the fragmented scenes of the videos, Keren Cytter achieves an inner connection and lets the viewer hope for a sequel.