Tuesday, January 03, 2006

First Take: Ryan Trecartin *

WHEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN lingering in front of a video projector or hitting a half-dozen other galleries is increasingly a cinch, the jolting energy, nerve, and intricacy of twenty-four-year-old Ryan Trecartin's work in the medium comes as no small shock. An abiding interest in indie rock, goth, psychedelia, and other hot topics won't distinguish his practice from that of other younger artists. But everything aesthetic about his videos—from the baroque screenplays that polish flippant teen slang into cascading soliloquies to the dueling fascinations with profound loneliness and extremely affected behavior to the swarming, jumbled, yet precisely composed shots that pack each frame with visual stimuli—displays a near obliviousness to what's going on in his field, whether it be the clichés of current video art or the signature styles of past experimental films. Trecartin does, however, share a penchant for full-frontal gayness and a love of extravagance with the movie directors his work most immediately brings to mind: Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith, and early John Waters.

Trecartin was "discovered" last spring when a student at the Cleveland Institute of Art showed visiting artist Sue De Beer a few minutes of a crazy video he'd found on the dating/networking website www.friendster.com. Upon her return to New York, De Beer told writer and former New Museum curator Rachel Greene about her find. With only the artist's first name to go on, together they searched Friendster's database until they found Trecartin's profile, then wrote to ask if he would send them a copy of the video in its entirety—a forty-one-minute work titled A Family Finds Entertainment, 2004. Floored by what she saw, Greene began showing the piece to enthusiastic artists, curators, and gallerists. Several months and much buzz later, Trecartin's first solo show opens in January at Los Angeles gallery QED; the J. Paul Getty Museum, an institution not exactly known for supporting young, unproven artists, has commissioned a new work that will be exhibited this spring; and AFFE, the video that started it all, will be in this year's Whitney Biennial.

All of these Pecker-like details aside, Trecartin is not your classic recontextualized outsider. Raised in rural Ohio, he designed costumes and stage sets in high school before picking up his first camera at the Rhode Island School of Design. While there, he made a number of short films, including Yo, A Romantic Comedy, 2002, a messy, hypergay exercise in genre, and the heartfelt, bratty Valentines Day Girl, 2001, and helped form a multidisciplinary art collective called Experimental People. After graduating in 2004, he moved to New Orleans with the group, whose members were among the huge cast appearing in AFFE. Then Hurricane Katrina destroyed Trecartin's elaborately painted, decorated home (featured prominently in the video) and with it virtually all of the nondigital artwork he'd ever made. Following a period of drifting and homelessness, Trecartin now lives and makes art in Los Angeles, thanks to the support of an admiring collector.


Blogger CycyLolo said...

Dear Dennis and Yuty, i'm sorry to be so late. I wish you a wonderful and happy new year, full of love and success.

1:50 AM  
Blogger porcelain skull said...


re guessing game: 18. (please)

re new year: work at getting another solo show of my work,the idea is simple, 100s of photographs of one guy, from the floor to the ceiling, on three walls of a gallery, each shot 8x10, all shots taken over a few months,i like the idea of over stepping into something normal but freaky, a concentrated focus,

to be honest, id gladly give the whole art thing up, at the moment, to be a baker and have a boyfriend,(sigh),

oh before i forget, i voted you man of the year, dennis.

does that count as a bribe?

take care,


4:16 AM  
Blogger Paul America said...

I'm torn, DC. 59 or 37???????????

In my heart I wanna say 59. But something yanks me towards 37.

So that's my guess...37.

On a totally, totally unrelated note - I totally need to know...what say you, DC, about The Strokes???
(i totally used the word totally 3 times in an homage to gregg araki - who is totally better than Jack Smith and Kenneth Anger COMBINED!!! MOTHERFUCKER!...except for 'the living end' and 'mysterious skin'...which both sucked). Bear with me, DC, I'm stoned, and that's totally the real reason why i keep saying totally, probably (that shit about greg araki was totally designed to be an afterthought cover-up...except for the part about mysterious skin and living end sucking...which they totally do...in abundance)....but i still wanna know. totally. alright i'll stop.

and is anyone else getting a nasty feeling everytime they read past the NEWS section of Pitchfork??? (Not that i'm disagreeing with pitchfork's bad review of the strokes' new album...i haven't even heard it...and it probably is really gross...but i've felt this way for awhile.)

i totally wish upon each and every fucking one of you guys CUTE BOYS, GENIUS MOMENTS, and VISAS in the coming year.

10:10 PM  

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