Vengeance, episodes 1-3
About the video
“Vengeance”, a video series by Keren Cytter, will consist of 7 episodes to be completed by the end of 2013. In her new work the Israeli artist, who recently moved to New York, takes up the US TV-format of the “daily soap” and processes classic themes of drama in personal relationships: love, envy, betrayal, and vengeance. Cytter stages these new episodes in the rich settings of Staten Island and New Jersey. The scenes were filmed at 15 different places, including restaurants, hotels, parks, apartments, and streets. A total of 50 actors, most of them professionals, fulfill their social functions with blank faces. They provide a projection space for the beliefs and stereotypes of each viewer.
Cytter takes up the concept of “friendenemies”, which has become popular in American soaps: two women, previously friends, get caught up in a perfidious contest in their daily office life, turning them into bitter rivals. In this conflict, both women are like puppets; driven only by the pressure of competition and the obsession with perfection. Not only the characters seem interchangeable, the story also stays intentionally superficial to grant the viewer a low-threshold access into the events. The artist reviews impressions and clichés of the US American society, which have become part of our collective memory – not least by daily soaps such as Dallas or The Denver Clan. Cytter examines cut and dried patterns deeply rooted in pop-cultural visual memory and analyzes the influence of mass media on behavior patterns and prejudices in contemporary society.
Cytter also reflects on the medium of “video” itself, by using the outdated method of rear projection. The change of scene by means of different images projected onto the rear wall of the performers’ space brings together several factors of Cytter’s œuvre. Presenting theatrical moments in a stage-like setting can be regarded as one of the leading elements in the artist’s effort to mix reality and fiction. Sentences displayed on a canvas behind the actors seem like comments on scenes from silent-movies. The nostalgic slowness of the images is accompanied by Steve Kaufmann’s soundtrack. With chopped-off, slightly dis-harmonious piano chords and the driving sound of chimes, the experienced jazz musician creates a feeling of tension. At the same time, improvised melodious saxophone music conjures up the atmosphere of a dimly lit New York bar. By creating references between the fragmented scenes of the videos, Keren Cytter achieves an inner connection and lets the viewer hope for a sequel.