The exhibition presents the New York premiere of August, a 3D digital film inspired by the life and work of renowned German photographer August Sander, celebrated for his masterful portraiture in People of the Twentieth Century. In his 15-minute fictional film, Fast offers a dark portrait of Sander at the end of his life, nearly blind and haunted by the memory of his son who died as a political dissident in a Nazi prison.
August examines Sander as both visionary and powerless, exposing an entanglement between these states and inviting viewers to reconsider the relevance of image-making in the context of political crisis and personal loss. During a hallucinatory flashback, a Nazi officer quotes Walter Benjamin (who himself quoted Goethe) in praising Sander’s work as “delicately empirical.” Both critic and fan, the officer appreciates the irony of his remark when presenting himself as a subject for Sander to photograph – and the artist obliges
In addition to the presentation of August, Fast will transform the gallery facade and interior into what they were like before gentrification: the waiting room of a Chinatown business with an eclectic aesthetic. This immersive ficitional space continues Fast’s preoccupation with role-playing and time travel. In his recent solo exhibition Talking Is Not Always the Solution at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, Fast presented works in spaces alternating between cinematic black-boxes and life-sized dioramas referencing institutional waiting rooms. This exhibition further delves into a theatrical use of space, creating an environment for reimagining temporal and causal relations. An earlier work by Fast, Looking Pretty for God (After G.W.) (2008), will be on view in the waiting room. Looking Pretty for God is a straightforward documentary about funeral directors. Nevertheless, while the camera explores the largely empty funeral homes where these men work, little children sometimes appear and explain what the viewer is seeing. The aestheticization of death, for both Fast and his mortician subjects, represents yet another entanglement of the visionary with the powerless.