Reviews

Keren Cytter at Museum of Contemporary Art

Chicago

Keren Cytter, Something Happened (still), 2007, digital video, 7 minutes, 51 seconds. COURTESY THE ARTIST; NAGEL DRAXLER, BERLIN; PILAR CORRIAS, LONDON; AND GALLERIA RAFFAELLA CORTESE, MILAN

Keren Cytter, Something Happened (still), 2007, digital video, 7 minutes, 51 seconds.

COURTESY THE ARTIST; NAGEL DRAXLER, BERLIN; PILAR CORRIAS, LONDON; AND GALLERIA RAFFAELLA CORTESE, MILAN

A puckish energy ran through this exhibition of video works and drawings by the Israeli-born, Brooklyn-based artist Keren Cytter. Made in an intentionally naive style, Cytter’s videos employ low-tech special effects (blood, bubbles) and the generic plotlines and clichéd characters of film noir and soap opera. While her films are threaded through with humor, absurdity, and human fallibility, they serve less to entertain than to play with viewers’ expectations.

Both Four Seasons (2009), a spoof of a thriller, and the metanarrative Something Happened (2007) incorporate jump cuts and repetition instead of proceeding sequentially. In the latter video, characters recite stage directions, drawing attention to themselves as actors rather than as sympathetic characters. In Siren (2014), a dark tale of romance, the looping, disjointed action confuses our sense of time, and Cytter’s use of screenshots and YouTube clips accents the influence of the Internet on the contemporary language of cinema and how viewers consume film.

Other stories are suggested by the back and forth between the videos and Cytter’s drawings, whose images and ideas are influenced by the artist’s domestic surroundings. While in her films Cytter subverts the conventions of narrative cinema and exposes the techniques of filmmaking, in the drawings, too, she challenges us to bring a critical awareness to what we see.

A version of this story originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 90.

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