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TRUE LIES: THE ART OF KEREN CYTTER

In just a few short years, Keren Cytter has produced a singular oeuvre comprising dozens of films, works of fiction, and, more recently, theatrical pieces created with her new company, D.I.E. Now (Dance International Europe Now). Curator, critic, and Artforum contributing editor Daniel Birnbaum takes stock of this prodigious figure—“one of the emblematic artists of our moment,” he says—who is currently exhibiting at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, through April 4; who will stage a D.I.E. Now production this month at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands (March 8–21); and who will be the subject of an in-depth survey opening this spring at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm (May 8–August 15).

“STELLA!” “MY NAME IS LUCY, MAN.” Immediately, things get complicated: Is her name Lucy or is it Stella, as the male protagonist—the bleeding man in the bathtub—insists? Keren Cytter’s twelve-minute film Four Seasons, 2009, is a psychologically dense and convoluted story of a man and a woman living next door to each other (or perhaps in the same apartment—it’s not entirely clear); it’s rendered all the more confounding by a kind of metanarrative about divine architectures reminiscent of J. G. Ballard’s icy science-fiction parables. “The structure seemed like a ghost town from a distance,” intones a voice-over in a seemingly irrefutable American accent; subsequent musings describe cosmic constructions devoid of doors and windows but replete with celestial arches and stairways. This anonymous discourse is repeatedly interrupted by the most melodramatic music imaginable (the compositions of

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