Ryan Trecartin's MoCa PDC Exhibition "Any Ever" Could Become "Anything Forever"
Seven videos screened in five installation environments make a nonstop, frantic procession. Unruly characters perform through layers of seasick make-up, while generic dancey music propels us nowhere; low-budget computer graphics make it all seem like an impossibly long intro to a bad sitcom.
This barrage can be difficult to take in, at least at first. The sense is that the work has no end, reinforced by the title, "Any Ever," which can be unfolded (if I can take the liberty) to "Anything Forever." Trecartin follows this impossible standard, both of indifference and endurance, to remarkable and effective lengths.
“Opinion pollution,” this phrase - Trecartin’s - sums up the atmosphere his characters exist in throughout the work. They typically confront the camera directly and vent. They are either an advertiser's dream or her false assumptions, as they are defined wholly by their likes and, more often, dislikes. These sputtering, agitated, desiring-machines do not so much perform, as, beacon-like, emit signals of selfhood.
Frequently, their dialogues are hilarious. His acting troupe, made up of young friends and the occasional child actor, use a recognizably millennial-generation idiom. But with Trecartin, the “whatever” clichés and typically dismissive “I’m so over it” attitudes are prone to disarming semantic shifts. For example, one wonders, “Did someone forget to put chlorine in my generosity filter?”
Trecartin’s work succeeds in that, while it expands with centrifugal force, it is also well crafted enough to stand up to a close reading.
There is little narrative activity (though more than is first apparent) and it is often unclear who is doing what to whom. But there are themes.
In "K-Corea INC.K" (Section A), the theme is hiring and firing in the global workforce. Though the characters always behave with the same hyperactive, manic, destructiveness, they tend to do so in a variety of contexts.
Toward the beginning of the piece, a scene features representatives from various countries who are meant to constitute a United Nations of business. All of them are seated on an airplane wearing blond wigs while a character in the center brags into her cell phone: “We’re travelling third world class.” She exclaims, ”We can smoke, aaaaall up in this shit.”
Meanwhile, the passengers lift their cigarettes and cheer. She continues, “look what I carried on,” and holds up a knife, while everyone on the plane cheers again and does the same. She goes on to talk about the “designed stewardess” and “designed steroids and mac ‘n cheese” - everything is "designed."
The plane lands and the stewardess is fired (literally) for dropping a tray. They pile into a rented RV that takes them to their meeting place (a motel of course). At the motel, the same character stands on a patio table and, using the umbrella pole, does a stripper-dance while declaring, “Lets have a meeting!” One wants to revel, at least for a moment, in the absolute pleasure of this anarchy.
Through the barrage of imagery and sound, Trecartin’s work makes the ambiguities and contradictions of contemporary culture crystal clear. Thank you, Mr. Trecartin, for making us see our dystopia so well.
To reach reporter Gabriel Cifarelli, click here.