Artes Mundi Questionnaire: Omer Fast

One of the shortlisted artists for the Artes Mundi 6 prize, the Berlin-based video artist answers our brief questionnaire

By ArtReview

Omer Fast, Continuity, 2012 (still), Single channel HD video. Courtesy gb agency, Paris Omer Fast, Continuity, 2012 (still), Single channel HD video. Courtesy gb agency, Paris Omer Fast. Courtesy the artist


As one of ten shortlisted artists for Artes Mundi 6, you are presenting a project in a large exhibition, taking place across three venues (the National Museum Cardiff – the exhibition’s regular venue –and also at Chapter Arts Centre and Ffotogallery), through 22 February 2015. Could you tell us a bit more about your project and what form it takes?


I am showing a 40-minute fiction film called Continuity. It is a portrait of a middle-aged German couple whose son has just returned from military service in Afghanistan. The film is conceived as a kind of TV melodrama but the scenario keeps repeating itself with the couple bringing several young men into their home, each of whom acts out the role of the son differently. The situation is not exactly normal and details from the young men's stories begin to magically appear in the couple's home and in the landscape around them. It is ultimately unclear whether the couple have created this elaborate ritual in order to mourn for a lost son, whether there was even a son at all to begin with, or if something else is at play.

AR: Artes Mundi aims to support ‘contemporary visual artists who engage with the human condition, social reality and lived experience’. How do you feel your work relates to that definition?

OF: Very closely.

AR: Making work which reflects society as it is today can involve some of its most difficult aspects. What role do you think art should or could play in better highlighting or understanding these issues?

OF: I am personally drawn to works that deal with social issues but all contemporary art is arguably reflecting our times even if not every artist or work is overtly intending to do so.

AR: What has the experience been like to be in a group exhibition such as Artes Mundi?. Do you feel particular connections with the other artists’ practices? And what do you think could emerge from this experience?

OF: So far the experience has been lovely but very brief. The Artes Mundi team has been very responsive and accommodating about installing the work. I look forward to returning to Cardiff in order to give a talk and meet all of the other artists.

AR: Artes Mundi is the largest monetary prize in the UK, offering £40,000 to the winner. Should you win, how do you plan on using the prize money? Do you have a particular project that you would like to use it to realise?

OF: I don't think I will win and have no plans for this prize money.

Artes Mundi 6 will be awarded on 22nd January at a ceremony in Cardiff. The prize show is at National Museum Cardiff, Chapter Cardiff, and Ffotogallery, Penarth until 22 February.

13 January 2015