Ryan Trecartin’s body of work is undoubtedly relevant for discussing an uber-mediatised society where identities do not evolve organically from the usual cycle of traumas, experience and repetition but, instead, have started to be imposed onto the subject through the expectations and desires generated by the media and what we could call…the symbolic market. In Trecartin’s videos people are extreme but somehow they do not seem exceptional. Theirs is a feral commonality. In many of his videos he features actors who speak in a Southern accent creating a lower class burlesque of sorts that functions as a reminder that in times of the Internet, fluid identities make social change superficial but never structural. So if the issue is change what is changing in this fast changing society?
Ryan Trecartin’s skyrocketing career in the art world can only be compared to that of Matthew Barney in the 90s. Like Barney, Trecartin combines cinematic video suites with baroque sculptural installations and turns to the theme of human transformation and change from the point of view of gender, thematising the feral in all of us. But while Barney is ritualistic and obscure, Trecartin is video-gameish and hopelessly punk. His videos are modern day equivalents of those Velazquez’s bodegones where an inversion of low over high occurred. This, of course, allows the viewer to watch this as a humanistic exercise.
In Andrea Rosen Gallery he is presenting ‘Mark Trade’ (2016) which is a post apocalyptic remake of something like Easy Ryder. Murphy Maxwell stars at as the title character, a red neck who alludes frequently to a long past ‘human era’ as he and film crew travel through the American West. In a moment of fury he kicks and cracks the windshield of the group’s rented RV and that draws the line. Of what? Of that which is accepted. Of change? That’s fucked up’ he says, breaking character. ‘Camera off’. The perpetual performances only come to halt when a screen shatters. It’s an apt metaphor for other signs of fissure. It is as if there are certain things that cannot be broken and certain kind of people are ready to stop history in order to prevent that from happening. Any link to Donald Trump and what is going on in a world where democracy is breaking apart could be linked to this very moment where representation has to stop. J A T