Friday, 17 February 2012, 24:00 | midnight

#31: Omer Fast

Much of Omer Fast’s work delves into the psychology of contemporary trauma, often relying on the blurring of memory and the retelling of actual events through cinematic convention.  Fast’s work moves beyond the formalities of the genre, pushing through reality and non-reality of his subject matter, and is ultimately about the status of the image as a tool to disseminate information, both real and manufactured.

In his work as a filmmaker, Omer Fast defines a new relationship between reality and fiction. He is interested in exploring the construction of narratives, in particular how stories change when told from different perspectives. Many of his recent works examine the shifting boundaries of modern conflict through the personal stories of those involved. Fast borrows from traditions of documentary, dramatization and fantasy, and use human emotions as stand-ins for the larger socio-political reality of contemporary warfare.

Omer Fast presents:

5000 Feet is the Best, 2011, 27:00 min
5000 Feet is the Best tells a story about pilots of unmanned, American drones who work in container-like offices surrounded by a multitude of computer displays. Technology allows them to discern what make someone’s shoes are or to watch a man smoking his cigarette from the other end of the world – it is a very intimate visual perception, a sensation the pilot also feels when he directs the drone’s missiles to their target. The digital film, which is based on an interview by the artist with a former pilot, mixes documentary material with fictitious elements. The pilot evades the questions of the interviewer time and again and seeks refuge in the recounting of petty anecdotes. The images these stories conjure up in the film blend with our own imaginings of the war in the Middle East and those of Las Vegas. Increasingly, the film focuses on the void between our own media-shaped assumptions and the traumatizing experiences of the pilot.

Her Face Was Covered (Part 1), 2011, 6:00 min
Her Face Was Covered (Part 2), 2001, Slide show with 80 slides playing at 4 second intervals
The starting point for Her Face Was Covered is the story of an unmanned air vehicle operator who describes a live-fire mission at an undisclosed place.

Observed from the drone flying high in the sky, a woman approaches a smoldering truck on a desert road. After hesitating for a moment, she picks up a weapon from the truck and is therefore targeted by the drone operator and killed by his missile. The drone operator declined to be interviewed directly about this event but agreed for his close friend to channel his answers, remotely, like a ventriloquist, via skype.

The facts – already separated by one generation – are further complicated by nagging uncertainties regarding the story’s female antagonist. What first appears to be a female combatant might actually be a male combatant dressed as a female civilian – or just a woman out scavenging who is mistaken for a male combatant dressed as a female civilian. The short video contains the drone operator’s testimony – directly recorded via skype through his friend – and pairs his words with footage that first appears to be authentic but turns out to be props and crew on a film set.

In both works, the sequence of images we see establishes its own logic, which increasingly disconnects from a chain of events that becomes less anchored in fact and more in conjecture.


Omer Fast (b. 1972 in Jerusalem) grew up between Israel and New York. He received a BFA from Tufts University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1995, and an MFA from Hunter College in New York City in 2000. His work has been featured in dOCUMENTA (13), the 54th Venice Biennale, and the 2002 and 2008 Whitney Biennials. In addition, he has been the subject of a solo exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Le Caixa, Barcelona; Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montréal; Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow; Dallas Museum of Art, TX; Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, CO; and at the Art Institute of Chicago, IL.

Fast’s work is included in the permanent collections of numerous institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of American Art in New York; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Tate Modern, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; an the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Omer Fast lives and works in Berlin.