Omer Fast lives and works in Berlin, DE

 

The films and videos of Omer Fast oscillate between reality and fiction, documentation and drama. With a cinematic gaze, the artist relates stories that symbolically reveal the power structures of our present, where personal memories of witnesses pervade events.

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Omer Fast, A Place Which Is Ripe, 2020, 3 synchronized videos on mobile phones lying in an open drawer, color, sound, loop, 16′39′′; office furniture, video still © Omer Fast

For A Place Which Is Ripe (2020), the artist asked two former London police officers—a super-recognizer and his supervisor—about their profession. Their testimonies explain why surveillance cameras are today so ubiquitous in Great Britain. Closed-circuit television, or CCTV, helped solve two notorious crimes—the murders of two-year-old James Bulger in 1993 and fourteen-year-old Alice Gross in 2014. Thereafter, public acceptance of the extensive use of cameras increased dramatically. This is not the case in Germany, where the incidents that occurred at the Cologne Cathedral on New Year’s Eve 2015 revealed that only two cameras had been installed at the main train station—photographs taken with mobile phones were what ultimately led to around 200 arrests. This begs the question: are surveillance cameras still necessary?

The officers are filmed from behind so that their faces are not visible. Accompanying their words are related images from Google searches shown on three mobile phones placed in a drawer, suggesting an intimacy that diametrically opposes the subject of the work. The artist questions what happens behind the scenes of surveillance: who assesses the footage and where it ultimately ends up. Although he is skeptical of the super-recognizer’s talent, he also acknowledges that it puts everyone at ease to know that there are human beings behind the algorithms. The fact that they can use technology to look deep into the lives of others while remaining invisible gives them tremendous power. But this also comes with a price—the flood of images is difficult to bear. The boundaries between public and private blur, not only for those being watched, but also for those watching, who disappear into the web of technology, commerce, industry, politics, and law enforcement.

Gesine Borcherdt

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Omer Fast, A Place Which Is Ripe, 2020, 3 synchronized videos on mobile phones inside an open drawer, color, sound, 16’39’’, loop; office furniture, dimensions variable, installation view, gb agency, 2021, courtesy gb agency © Omer Fast

Exhibitions

Double Vision, 2022, Tai Kwun, Hong Kong (HK)

Someone Else. The foreignness of children, 2022, Museum für Neue Kunst, Freiburg (DE)

Jack Davison, Omer Fast, and Frida Orupabo, 2021, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburg (DE)

Omer Fast: Continuity, 2021, Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide (AU) (solo)

Art Feeds on Art, 2021, MOCAK – Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow, Krakow (PL)

Der Oylem iz a Goylem, 2019, Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg (AT)

The Invisible Hand, 2018, Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou (CN) (solo)

Talking is not always the solution, 2016, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (DE) (solo)