Frenetic Films at MoMA PS1
Within five years of graduation, filmmaker and multimedia artistRyan Trecartin 04 FAV had landed atrifecta of major awards, racking up more than $200,000 in art prizes. Now he’s building on that recognition with his first large-scale solo show in New York – at MoMA PS1.Ryan Trecartin: Any Ever, which opened on June 19, has already gotten ecstatic reviews in The New Yorker, The New York Times and The New York Observer. Peter Schjeldahl, the New Yorker’s art critic, calls him “the most consequential artist to have emerged since the 1980s” and Roberta Smith of the Times says that Any Ever “reveals an immense but not fully developed talent that seems bound for greatness.”
Trecartin’s high-energy experimental films – which make use of a distinctive cinematic language he developed in collaborating with Lizzie Fitch between 2009 and 2010 – explore concepts of identity, narrative, language, consumerism and contemporary visual and popular culture. Shot in Miami, the videos inAny Ever feature an odd mix of friends, artists, child actors and reality TV performers. They are presented as a seven-film cycle installed in seven distinct environments – galleries filled with couches, conference tables, gym paraphernalia, bookcases, ladders and other props that appear in the frenzied films themselves.
“At the risk of oversimplification, [Trecartin’s] art could be said to combine the retinal extravagance of much 1980s art with the political awareness of the ’90s and the inclusiveness and technological savvy of the postmillennium,” Smith notes in theTimes review. “This exhibition shreds the false dichotomies and mutually demonizing oppositions that have plagued the art world for decades — between the political and the aesthetic, the conceptual and the formal, high and low, art and entertainment, outsider and insider, irony and sincerity, gay and straight.”
Each viewer chooses how to watch and combine the narrative in the disparate films, but the show itself is structured as a diptych, with three films in the Trill-ogy Comp section and four in a section known as Re’Search Wait’S. Trecartin appears in several of the movies, playing quadruplet sisters in Sibling Topics (section a) and a character called Wait (who forsakes a “career” in favor of a “work performance”) in Ready. Taken together, the videos are poetic, feverish, absurd and supremely satisfying, portraying an off-kilter world that channels our own existential dramas.
“Ryan has a great love of costume, of letting go, and becoming another – whether that other is a little godlike or a body seeking the androgynous middle,” says FAV Department HeadDennis Hlynsky 74 FAV, who was one of his teachers. “At times when I watched his work I imagined myself in a large chat room or [engaged in] an accelerated channel-switching where all becomes one voice – a drone of want, desire, likes, rating, ranting, trolling and searching. I see Ryan’s work as a reminder that if we are to join this interconnected world we must jump in, let go and engage without bias.”
Trecartin lives and works in Los Angeles and has already exhibited Any Ever at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto’s Power Plant and the Istanbul Modern in Turkey. The show is also on view through September 4 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami and will move on to Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris from October 7 through January 8, 2012. The artist has also exhibited in numerous international biennials, including ones in Singapore (2011), Gwangju (2010) and Liverpool (2010), along with the Whitney Biennial (2006).