STEVENSON is proud to show Keren Cytter's video The Hottest Day of the Year as part of the FOREX series. Filmed partly in South Africa, this will mark the first time local audiences will be able to see the final product.
The film uses the tradition of the romantic anthropological documentary to make an argument about the present. Cytter was inspired by Chris Marker's monumental film Sans Soleil (1983) as well as the work of Vietnamese theoretician and filmmaker Trinh T Minh-ha. In their documentaries and travel reports, both directors are concerned with colonialism.
The first part of Cytter's 'documentary' tells the story of the imaginary Anne-Marie Baptist, born in 1917 in France. A male narrator - the grandchild of the main character, as we learn later on - recounts: during World War II, Baptist escaped Paris and travelled to South Africa to work as a nurse. While on a search for a mythical place where the Khoikhoi and San had fought each other, Baptist contracted malaria and died in 1950.
After approximately 10 minutes, the second part of the film begins. A female soldier is supposed to be enlisted in an office of the Israel Defence Force. Tal Hefter's background music changes into a locally well-known song about Israel's landscape. While one of the women suffers from a horrible migraine on this hottest day of the year, the second female soldier proceeds with the enlistment process of the aspirant. When asked for her profile - an estimation of the physicality of the soldier between 21 and 97 - the aspirant answers '82', the year of the Lebanon war. Contrary to the laymen acting in the African part of the film, two trained actors and a director play the female soldiers. All of them are actually too old to be in the army.
The viewer is confused by the second part of the film, more so because it begins with the fade-in of the title in the middle of the video. This chapter is connected to the first one by association. The mythical location Anne-Marie Baptist searched for in Africa was cursed a long time ago: at this place, all actions lose their meaning.
Keren Cytter was born 1977 in Tel Aviv, Israel, and lives and works in Berlin. She studied at Avni Institute for Art, Tel Aviv, and at De Ateliers in Amsterdam. Recent solo exhibitions have taken place at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2011); the Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2010); Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel (2010); as part of the Project Series at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2010); CCA Center for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu (2009); Le Plateau, Paris (2009) and Witte de With, Rotterdam (2008). Recent group exhibitions include Found in Translation, Guggenheim Museum, New York); the 8th Gwangju Biennale (2010); the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009) and The Generational: Younger than Jesus at the New Museum, NewYork (2009). She was shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize (2010) and nominated for the Preis der Nationalgalerie für Junge Kunst 2009, Berlin.
Courtesy of SCHAU ORT. Christiane Büntgen, Zurich.
The exhibitions open on Thursday 3 September, from 6 to 8pm.
For more about the FOREX series, click here.