March 24, 2016 - BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art - Omer Fast: Present Continuous
March 24, 2016

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Omer Fast, Spring (still), 2016. Courtesy the artist.

Omer Fast
Present Continuous
March 18–June 26, 2016

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
S Shore Rd
Gateshead Quays
Gateshead NE8 3BA
United Kingdom

www.balticmill.com

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead presents Present Continuous, the UK’s first comprehensive monographic exhibition by Omer Fast. On view until June 26, 2016, the exhibition is comprised of new and recent work. Fast is best known for video works that question the conventions of storytelling, media reportage and historical representation. He employs cinematic techniques and complex narrative structures to explore the ways stories, and consequently history and identity, are formed. Undermining the divide between reality and representation and between document and artifice, his practice also interrogates the status of the image.

Divided over two floors, the exhibition includes seven installation and projection-based works beginning with CNN Concatenated (2002), an 18-minute-long video collage edited from thousands of individual words spoken by presenters on the Cable News Network. The footage is reconstructed to form a disconcerting poetic narrative with an underlying sense of threat. The first floor of the exhibition presents Continuity (2012) and Spring (2016). Continuity, first presented at dOCUMENTA (13), follows a young soldier returning from Afghanistan to a home situation that is increasingly uncanny as his authenticity is called further and further into question. Spring, a new commission made for the exhibition, expands his tale. Presented on five screens it is a portrait of two young German men whose lives intersect violently. The work delves into emotions of longing, loss and revolt before reaching a surprising end from two different perspectives.

The exhibition’s second floor includes a presentation of 5,000 Feet is the Best (2011) at cinematic scale. Underpinned by an interview Fast conducted with a former operator of Predator drones, the film weaves together the operator’s account of his life and work along with scenes depicting crimes in and around Las Vegas. Shown in proximity, Everything that Rises Must Converge (2013), follows four adult film performers during their day at work in the San Fernando Valley. The film is presented as four simultaneous projections. And finally, Looking Pretty for God (2008) and A Tank Translated (2002) present documentary portraits edited from conversations the artist recorded with funeral directors in the US and the crew of an Israeli tank. The two works are presented on small screens scattered throughout the exhibition.

Despite their often overt political content, the narrative constructions and deviations of Fast’s videos ensure they transcend the issues he at first seems to address. It is, rather, the traditions of storytelling and its role in creating fact and identity that is central to his work. 

Present Continuous is accompanied by a major new publication with new essays by writer and critic Jennifer Allen, author Tom McCarthy, BALTIC Chief Curator Laurence Sillars and a conversation between Omer Fast and Jeu de Paume Curator Marina Vinyes Albes. The full scripts of each film included in the exhibition are also reproduced. Publication available from shop.balticmill.com.

Present Continuous is co-produced with Jeu de Paume, Paris and Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg, Denmark. The exhibition at BALTIC is supported by the Artis Grant Program. 

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