Monday, July 11, 2011

Ryan Trecartin: Any Ever – PS1, MoMA, Long Island City, New York


The way that Ryan Trecartin makes videos has become an adjective; “Trecartin-y” “Trecartin-esque,” and with due cause. Since he graduated from RISD in 2000 and his Family Finds Entertainment suite of videos pulsed their way from art school kid to the art school kid, it was known that this Trecartin guy was the next big thing. With his current exhibition at P.S.1 MoMA, his already stratospheric rise in the art world is now fully ordained. Any Ever is exactly what you were expecting, but better. It is all things Trecartin but has more lounge chairs and lumens. The videos are in distinct rooms, which are arranged like various departments of a Home Depot or Target. There are bleachers, large patio lights, bed frames, conference room desks, fat leather recliners; they are the ugliest pieces of furniture you know the rest of the world owns. These environments are interesting in their obviousness but also in their functionality. It is really useful to have a comfortable, well-positioned place to watch these. Also, the incredible suburban-ness of the environments goes with the grotesque rhetoric of normality.


There are seven videos total and they are in two parts, Trill-ogy Camp and Re’Search Wait’S, which were made from 2007- 2010. In many ways these are all interchangeable and they have repeated casts and story lines. How do you describe a Trecartin film? It is limiting to try but as an attempt: they are clip art voodoo soap operas that star clichés of clichés who are exorcising and celebrating societies' neurosis using horror film and drag queen costuming. A distinguishing difference between some of these videos is those that concentrate on young adulthood and use predominantly child actors and others that have mostly Trecartin and his motley crew of gender melded friends. The works with the adolescents was a bit tedious at points, there is something lost in the transfer of the script and its delivery, which is exceptionally tight. Using these real life tweens and teens may serve the overall idea that this is everyone, this will be everyone, but even so, the young actors lack a possessed spazziness the older cadres have, deflating the vibe in some scenes.


The work that stood out the most was P.opular S.ky, which stares Trecartin, his closest collaborator Lizzie Fitch and many others. This was clearly done in Miami, tacky bungalow pool included, and it is a screechy, fabulous work. Fitch plays a nasally, frumpy, low tier corporate type and Trecartin is at times a bronzed-spaz-nymph and at others a zombied-raver-pet. The work is forty-five minutes and it is wacky and perfectly executed. This piece in particular shows the hypnotic and genius acting (or whatever it is) that Trecartin can do and also the evolution of his editing skills and development. I have no idea about video editing, animating etc., but this and the other pieces in this show are different then past Trecartin films in this very specific way. Fortunately, even with his fame and success this greater access to these tools is not becoming a tech-nerd burden but still being used always to tell the story.


Those that have been big fans of Trecartin since 2000ish have wanted to be in the aura of the Trecatin “it” and feel that he is our artist. He is one of the few, rare (possibly only), young thing born in the 80s that is more than just the hype of his youth. As Roberta Smith and Peter Schjeldahl have gushed about this show and the significance of Trecartin, so will many others. Seeing this exhibition gives a sense of relief, knowing that not everything, all the time, is boring and catapulted by a handful of dullards. The other great leveler of Tracartin’s works is that he has them all online on his Vimeo page, so that you, me, the gothy kid in Kentucky and the preppys in New Hampshire can see these videos. Whoever you are, wherever you are, they will send you tripping out of your comfort zone.