Omer Fast was born in Jerusalem in 1972, and grew up in Israel and New York. His multichannel video installations blur the boundaries between documentary, dramatization, and fantasy, frequently generating viewers’ confusion. Fast often anchors his narratives with a conversation between two people—whether subjects recounting their own stories or actors playing roles of interviewer and interviewee. As dialogues escalate in tension, portraits of carefully calibrated identity emerge. Through repetition and reenactment, multiple takes of given scenes build shades of interpretation as a story is told, retold, and mythologized. Stories of origin, trauma, and desire mutate into one another, forming blended genres that confound expectations and disrupt narrative conventions. Projected into space or unfolding simultaneously on multiple screens, the work resonates with characters—whether a drone pilot, worker in the adult film industry, or a wife talking to her husband—who seem to express the elemental complications and disparities of their own identities.
In the following preview from the ART21 Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 7 episode, Fiction, Fast investigates the implications of identity as performance. Shown filming the work Everything That Rises Must Converge (2013) in Los Angeles, the artist recalls the influences of having been raised between two cultures and languages. “If I feel authentic in one particular milieu but I switch milieu and I feel just as authentic in that other place,” questions the artist, “then what is that thing that we call identity about?”
Season 7 of Art in the Twenty-First Century premieres Friday, October 24, 2014 at 10:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). Fiction airs Friday, November 14 at 10 p.m. ET.