Omer Fast

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Omer Fast (born in Jerusalem 1972) is an Israeli video artist.

Omer Fast
Known forvideo artist
AwardsBucksbaum Award

Early life and education[edit]

Born and raised in Israel, Fast spent much of his teenage years in Jericho, New York[1] while his father pursued a medical degree in both countries.[why?][2][3] He received his BFA from a dual-degree program at Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1995, majoring in English and painting,[4] and an MFA from Hunter College in 2000.[5] He subsequently got a job doing magazine layout.[6]

Work and controversy[edit]

According to New York Times art critic, Roberta Smith, Fast is one of several contemporary artists who restages existing films, including Pierre Huyghe, Robert Melee, and Yasumasa Morimura.[7]

August (2017)[edit]

In 2017, Fast was met with protests and allegations of racism by the Chinatown Art Brigade and others in the Asian and Asian-American art community, including the Korean American artist and 47 Canal gallery owner Margaret Lee,[8] for his August exhibition in the James Cohan gallery on Manhattan's Lower East Side. The show was titled “August” after its centerpiece, a 3D video from 2016 inspired by the life of August Sander, a German portrait and documentary photographer. But that video, along with an earlier one, was upstaged by Fast's surrounding installation that transformed Cohan’s white-box space into a New York Chinatown shop or bus company waiting room with metal chairs, broken ATMs, and a shabby facade. Fast seemed to have intended the Cohan gallery “waiting room” not as a replication of any real Chinatown but as a version of immigrant neighborhoods evoked to justify “slum clearance.” While the Guardian wrote that the work was intended to provoke a strong reaction,[9] a group of activists and others called out[10] the piece as racist “poverty porn” and demanded its removal. [11][12]

Remainder (2015)[edit]

In 2015 Fast released his first feature film,[where?] based on the Tom McCarthy novel Remainder.[13]

Continuity (2012)[edit]

Continuity features an older couple who hires male escorts to play out their dead son’s return from Afghanistan. The 40-minute work explores loss and grief as much as the narrative constructions of fiction and the cinematic conventions used in documentary films.[14]

5000 Feet is the Best (2011)[edit]

Fast directed this short film shown at the Biennale di Venezia in 2011.

Nostalgia (2009)[edit]

In October 2009, Fast’s exhibition "Nostalgia" opened at South London Gallery. The exhibition included Nostalgia, a three-part film installation that intermingles a man’s account of his struggle for asylum in Britain with a reenactment of his story as a 1970s science fiction movie in which he attempts to flee a dystopian Europe and relocate to a colony in Africa.[15] Fast's 2009-2010 Nostalgia at the Whitney Museum of American Art received the 2008 Bucksbaum Award, given to the most prominent artist in that year's Whitney Biennial.[16]

The Casting (2007)[edit]

In the four-channel video piece Casting,[17] the viewer walks into the screening room initially encountering two hanging projection screens. Each contains a different depiction of a narrative showing the characters acting while silent and remaining completely still. The projection screens are double-sided and contain two additional images on the rear side where the viewer sees two men engaged in an interview. The two men are a young American Army sergeant and the artist in a dialog about the narrative. The artist states during the interview that he is interested only in memory and how memory gets mediated; he says the work he is trying to achieve has or should have no political slant. Although the work is politically ambiguous it shows the powerlessness of an American Army sergeant in the current Iraqi conflict and possibly the powerlessness of perceived American hegemonic power.

CNN Concatenated (2002)[edit]

In 2002, Fast finished CNN Concatenated, an 18-minute-long single-channel video which uses CNN news anchor clips. The video is cut so that each word is spoken by a different newsperson. The piece literally asks the viewers questions about media authenticity and gives CNN a distinct voice.[18] In preparation for his participation at the mentorship program Forecast, Fast produced a variation of CNN Concatenated to introduce himself as a mentor to potential mentees, reflecting on the challenge of communicating his expectations from a mentorship.[19]

Spielberg's List (2003)[edit]

The 59-minute two-channel work centers on interviews with residents of Krakow, Poland, who worked as extras in the concentration camp scenes in Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List.[20] The video suggests that, whatever their experience, many conflated the Hollywood version of the Holocaust with historical reality.[21]

Fast's politically charged subject matter covers issues of race, pornography, and war—both historical battles and contemporary conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.[22]


Fast has had solo exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2012), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2010), Berkeley Art Museum (2009), Museum of Modern Art, Vienna (2007), Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh (2005), Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2005), Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2004), and the Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt (2003). His work has also been featured in dOCUMENTA (13) (2012) and biennials and group exhibitions. In 2016 the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin is showing the exhibition "Omer Fast. Talking is not always the solution". His work has been exhibited in the United States and internationally. In October 2015, a monographic exhibition of Fast’s work titled Present Continuous opened at the Jeu de Paume, Paris, and subsequently travelled to the Baltic Center of Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK, and the KUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg, Denmark. He has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Le Caixa, Madrid, Spain; Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montréal, Canada; Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow, Poland; STUK Leuven, Belgium; Dallas Museum of Art, TX; Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; the Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY. His work was featured in dOCUMENTA (13), the 54th Venice Biennale, and the 2002 and 2008 Whitney Biennials. He received a BFA from Tufts University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and an MFA from Hunter College in New York City. Fast lives and works in Berlin.[23]

Awards & collections[edit]

He was the recipient of the 2009 Preis der Nationalgalerie für Junge Kunst and the 2008 Bucksbaum Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art. Fast's work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Hamburger Bahnhof, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Museum of Modern Art, Vienna.


  1. ^ Blake Gopnik (October 2, 2013), The Art of Work, Hard-Core Edition New York Times.
  2. ^ Carly Berwick (December 13, 2009), The Truth Is Out There New York Magazine.
  3. ^ Barbara Pollack (February 1, 2011), True Lies? ARTnews.
  4. ^ Barbara Pollack (February 1, 2011), True Lies? ARTnews.
  5. ^ Hunter College Department of Art Archived 2008-05-24 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Blake Gopnik (October 2, 2013), The Art of Work, Hard-Core Edition New York Times.
  7. ^ Roberta Smith (March 8, 2002), ART IN REVIEW; Brice Delsperger New York Times.
  8. ^ "Snapping in Chinatown | Affidavit | Margaret Lee".
  9. ^ "New York's Chinatown hits back at Omer Fast's 'poverty porn' art exhibition". 20 October 2017.
  10. ^ Chow, Andrew R. (19 October 2017). "Artist Defends Chinatown Exhibit After Protests". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Cotter, Holland (20 October 2017). "Omer Fast's Chinatown Installation is a Misfire". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "Protesters Return to James Cohan Gallery to Say Goodbye to "Omer Fast's Racist Show"". 29 October 2017.
  13. ^ "[1]
  14. ^ Laurie Rojas (August 14, 2014), Cardiff prize show isn’t afraid to talk politics The Art Newspaper.
  15. ^ Garcia, Carnelia. "Omer Fast." Modern Painters, November 2009.
  16. ^ McAdams, Shane (February 2010). "Omer Fast". The Brooklyn Rail.
  17. ^ Holland Cotter (January 7, 2010), Is It Reality or Fantasy? The Boundaries Are Blurred New York Times.
  18. ^ Sherry Wong: Televisions, July 22nd, 2002
  19. ^ "Omer Fast – Forecast". Retrieved 2020-11-26.
  20. ^ Roberta Smith (April 18, 2003), ART IN REVIEW; Omer Fast New York Times.
  21. ^ Holland Cotter (January 7, 2010), Is It Reality or Fantasy? The Boundaries Are Blurred New York Times.
  22. ^ "Omer Fast".
  23. ^ "Omer Fast - Artists - James Cohan".


  • Sabine Schaschl (ed.): "Omer Fast. In Memorry / Zur Erinnerung", Berlin (The Green Box) 2010. (English/German) ISBN 978-3-941644-14-4
  • “The Casting” (Monograph) Published by Museum of Modern Art, Vienna and Walter König Verlag, 2008 ISBN 978-3-86560-403-3
  • Astrid Wege, "Cologne, Omer Fast, Kölnischer Kunstverein", Artforum, Feb 2012
  • Barbara Pollack, "True Lies?", ART News,February 2010
  • Andreas Schlaegel, "Nothing But the Truth", Programma Magazine, Spring 2010
  • Mark Godfrey, TJ Demos, Eyal Weizman, Ayesha Hammed, "Rights of Passage", Tate Etc., Issue # 19, 2010
  • Nav Haq, "Foresight into the New African Century", Kaleidoscope #5, Feb 2010
  • Holland Cotter, "Is It Reality or Fantasy?" New York Times, January 7, 2010 [2]
  • Elisabeth Lebovici / Maria Muhle, Omer Fast, Afterall, March 2009
  • Chen Tamir, "Omer fast, New Magic Realism", Flash Art, Issue #114, October 2008
  • Tom Holert, "Attention Span", Artforum, February 2008
  • Mark Godfrey, "Making History", Frieze, March/April 2006
  • Nav Haq, "Omer Fast, Godville", Bidoun, 2005 [3]
  • Jennifer Allen, "Openings: Omer Fast", Artforum, September 2003 [4]
  • Chris Chang, "Vision: Omer Fast", Film Comment, July/August 2003 [5]
  • Marcus Verhagen, ‘Pleasure and Pain: Omer Fast Interviewed’ in Art Monthly Issue 330, October 2009 Brittania Art Publications LTD. Pp 1-4
  • "Omer Fast: Back to the Present" in Displayer. February 2009. pp 113-118
  • Omer Fast et al., The Death of the Artist (New York: Cabinet Books, 2019). ISBN 9781932698893, 1932698892

External links[edit]