Duration in Vain. How time complicates meaning in the videos of Keren Cytter
The manipulation of time is a critical component in the video art of Keren Cytter.
Traditional representation of time in cinema employs rules and structures that allow the viewer
to assemble story and meaning. Cytter’s domestic melodramas upend those structures by
utilizing repeated dialog, looped events that continually recur in altered states, and deliberate
chronological confusion. This lecture will first explore how she used such reverberations of time
to decompose the meaning ordinarily contained in language and interaction between people.
The cyclical renderings of time presented in Cytter’s videos resemble the philosophical concept of eternal return. In the modern era, it was Friedrich Nietzsche who most notably expanded and considered this concept. Nietzsche considered how the weight and meaning of events is affected by imagining their endless repetition, the possibility of their infinite duration. By analyzing Cytter’s manipulations of time in the expanded context of Nietzsche’s eternal return, I will further show how she used interventions in the structure of narrative time to question the validity of distinctions that are central to ordinary experience: between sacred and profane, kindness and cruelty, intimacy and enmity, comfort and anxiety, reality and fiction.