New York–based multidisciplinary artist Keren Cytter plays with the conventions of narrative cinema to reveal or upend unwritten rules. Her pared-down style of filmmaking utilizes the barest of resources; she often films in her own apartment and incorporates intentionally kitschy, lo-fi effects. These canny, low-budget videos create the atmosphere of film noir, horror movies, or soap operas, and revel in their familiar storylines—the twists and turns of love, sex, jealousy, murder, and revenge. And yet, even as Cytter’s characters enact intense moments, the actors are often emotionally detached from the drama or are even playing multiple roles; actions repeat themselves and seem out of sequence. As Cytter moves between multiple languages, plotlines, and genres within a single work, she fosters anticipation and disbelief, perhaps playing to the viewer’s critical instincts and appreciation of life’s absurdities in equal measure.
Featuring nine videos from the past decade, Keren Cytter’s eponymous exhibition is the first large-scale presentation of her work in the United States. The MCA’s exhibition also includes a series of drawings and live performance works from the artist. The exhibition was organized by the Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark. The Chicago presentation is accompanied by an anthology of all of Cytter’s film treatments—judged, by invitation of the artist, as “the best” or “the worst” by Jacob Fabricius, exhibition curator and Director of the Kunsthal Charlottenborg, and Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator Naomi Beckwith, who coordinated the exhibition at the MCA. Beckwith is also an Artis Research Trip alum.