Monday, February 1, 2010

Keren Cytter--Video of Language

If you’re not doing anything Thursday night, Feb 4, I have a suggestion. That night, the Israeli artist Keren Cytter, will be the featured artist at Artist’s Talk on Artists. The weekly events take place at SOHO 20 Chelsea, 547 West 27th Street, Suite 301. It’s typically an interesting program with a back and forth between ATOA’s Director of Programming and Cytter to be followed by questions and answer session with audience.

Cytter is a force. Her films consist of multiple layers of images- conversation, monologue, and narration systematically composed to undermine linguistic conventions and traditional interpretation schemata. Recalling amateur home movies and video diaries, these montages of impressions, memories, and imaginings are poetic and self-referential in composition. Here’s an excerpt form her 2005 “Continuity.”

Of course, Cytter doesn’t cover necessarily new ground--she participates in the type of self-conscious postmodern investigation of form and process, calls into question the blurry line between perception and so-called reality. But the really interesting aspect of Cytter’s work, for me, is how she uses language, both the confusing exchanges between the ‘actors’ as well as language itself. The actors in Cytter’s video often speak languages that she herself does not understand. This from a recent interview, “Language has a lot of impact. People end up determining what the movie is about based on the language. I did a movie about my childhood in Ariel in Dutch, and people thought of it as a Dutch movie. They ignored the fact that there are soldiers and barricades! I was surprised; it was clear to me that this movie is about a different place and culture, but once people heard Dutch they stuck to it.” Fascinating!

Here’s some more from her bio: 2009 was a very busy year for Keren Cytter, who participated in exhibitions at Manifesta, the Venice Biennale, the New Museum and X-Initiative, and premiered in performances at the Tate Modern and Performa. Cytter won the Vodka Absolute Artist Prize, was featured on the cover of Art Review, and listed second in Flash Art’s “2009 Top 100 Emerging Artists”. It seems that the artist is everywhere.

Cytter, 32, who was born in Israel and is now based in Berlin, never stops working. She has made over 50 video art works, a full-length feature film, and many drawings. She began an MFA at the Avni Art School in Tel Aviv, but quit after two years to pursue her own projects, such as painting tree trunks green in front of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (“I think it’s funny that 10 years later they are still green…the trees must be suffering.” Cytter said.) The artist has also published three novels, a book of crossword puzzles, and six editions of Alexia, an art and sex magazine, before moving to Amsterdam with a scholarship from De Ateliers.

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