Winner of the Baloise Art Prize 2006.
“Her drawings do not please me. Because she does not want to please me, or you. This is what makes them so good.” (Marlene Dumas(1))
Keren Cytter once said it was not being able to work on her videos during a power cut that had led her to develop a taste for drawing. That is typical of Cytter: she makes an untrue, drily humorous statement, which nevertheless reveals a deep truth about herself. She is constantly trying, by whatever means, to maintain contact with her surroundings and react to them.
When she made her Baloise drawings (2006–2008), Instagram did not yet exist. But even then this artist—now Instagram dependent—already had an obsessive urge to incessantly observe her own milieu and to capture it in her own subjective way. The Israeli writer and curator Avi Pitchon has described this aspect of Cytter as her “high voltage level of attention.”(2) Intriguingly, she generally devotes her (almost) neurotic attention to banal things: in the same way that her films are often shot in simple apartments—preferably in the kitchen—her ballpoint pen and felt-tip drawings are in effect snapshots of her daily life.
Her pen drawings on A4 paper were made in 2006, while she was shooting a film in Rotterdam. They depict fragments of newspapers, details of Cytter’s rented apartment, and excerpts from advertisements, which—she says tongue-in-cheek—she drew in a burst of subconscious creativity. Cytter describes these as “doodles,” the sort of things someone might find themselves doing on paper in a moment of boredom or distraction—for instance during a phone call.
The larger colored pencil and felt-tip drawings replicate images from a book of posters of Hitchcock movies. However, Cytter has replaced the titles with some of her favorite words—“Boredom!” for instance—and she has inserted portraits of actors from Repulsion (2006), the film inspired by Roman Polanski that she had recently shot.
Keren Cytter is often directly or indirectly present in her own works either in the form of items she owns, such as the camouflage-print bag, or in portraits—in the work here, in the multicolored, faceted image of her face in a black mirror.
(1) Marlene Dumas, “Improvise. On the drawings of Keren Cytter,” in Keren Cytter, exh. cat. Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Nuremberg 2007, pp. 78–81, here p. 81.
(2) Keren Cytter in Conversation with Avi Pitchon, “Anyone Who is Not Mentally Ill Likes a Happy Ending,” in Keren Cytter. I Was the Good and He Was the Bad and the Ugly, ed. Hila Peleg, exh. cat. Kunst-Werke Berlin, Frankfurt am Main 2006, pp. 72–101, here p. 82.