Magazine article Artforum International

Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin: Andrea Rosen Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin: Andrea Rosen Gallery

Article excerpt

Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin

ANDREA ROSEN GALLERY

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

From his undergraduate days onward, Ryan Trecartin has displayed the sort of raw talent that inspires recourse to German: Wunderkind, Gesamtkunstwerk, Zeitgeist. In this respect, and several others, the most salient point of comparison to Trecartin's career is Matthew Barney's ascension in the 1990s. Call it the Clark Kent Effect: The art world keeps coronating fresh-faced male phenoms from the heartland. Like Barney, Trecartin combines cinematic video suites with baroque sculptural installations, maintains from project to project the same close-knit cadre of collaborators (chief among them Lizzie Fitch), situates narratives in alternate realities governed by warped yet ironclad logics, and turns repeatedly to the theme of human transformation, across the gender spectrum and along a more fantastical axis spanning the feral, the mythological, and the cybernetic. What separates Trecartin from Barney is Reddit, Red Bull, and Real Housewives. Barney casts actors as mute functionaries engaged in obscure rituals; Trecartin renders them as glitchy video-game avatars chattering in chipmunk AutoTune. Barney's pacing is glacial, solemn; Trecartin's is dizzyingly rapid and damn funny.

I offer this comparison to pose a question. If Barney's post "Cremaster" output is any indicator, preternatural assurance plus unflagging acclaim is an easy formula for Ouroboros-like closure. Trecartin is inimitable, but what keeps him from becoming an imitation of himself? In this New York debut of recent videos and installations, credited to Trecartin and Fitch as a duo, numerous tropes from prior works reappear. Actors sport circle contact lenses and metallic face paint, as if primped for a bachelorette party at the Mos Eisley cantina. Mosaic patterns of handheld footage and digital animations stream more quickly than human physiology can fully process. Dialogue thrums to the confessional and combative rhythms of reality television. Yet the videos also import a new set of conventions, largely from horror movies. In Stunt Tank, 2016, characters wear GoPro headsets and operate camera-equipped drones; whenever the footage switches to these sources, the effect suggests the viewpoint of an unseen assailant spying on hapless victims. …

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