This past Sunday afternoon, I went to MoMA PS1 for the opening of Ryan Trecartin: Any Ever. Ryan is known for his performance based video that is gender bending and filters pop culture through a haze of psychedelic hyperactivity. Any Ever is composed of seven videos that all exist within an environment of sorts and are also a collaboration with Lizzie Fitch. It is within these environments, that were teeming with viewers lying in elevated beds, sitting in cushioned chairs and couches that stand on handbags where I felt the smile creep slowly across my face and rightfully so. Ryan’s characters are girls out on the town. They ride in cars, gossip, dance, make lots of cell phone calls, and talk to each other and an imaginary out of screen individual who could be holding the camera or be the viewer, now watching the private/made public extravaganza.
I found myself questioning and wondering who in fact the audience is during the performance and intended for. As part of a Youtube generation, Ryan’s characters are overly tanned, a bit erratic, and somehow both annoying and endearing. They are Britney Spears fans and boys who embody girls, dressed up for an evening out, to party, gossip, and meet boys. I walked from room to room waiting my turn to put on the available headphones because while an ambient music plays throughout the space, the videos themselves can only be heard through big black, squishy headphones. The effect was slightly odd and I found myself wishing that some of the works were fully audible sans headphones. I know this is a consistent issue with video/sound art due to the noise infiltrating from space to space but with these works the sound is so important as an oddly narrative, frenetic element. Without the sound, the characters appear in space moving, flinching, addressing the camera and flail about as wigs fly, and the odd face paint takes on an importance that carries with it an identity all its own.
A stable of various personalities find themselves in disparate environments. They all squeak and talk in elevated helium ingested voices. If the viewer can absorb and become audibly aware of the dialogue, he or she will decipher a few abstract phrases initially nonsensical, but theoretical reflections.
Sunday afternoon in Long Island City was gorgeous. The sun was shining and several of the galleries in the museum were streaming with natural light. The opening featured a great turn-out including Genesis P-orridge, Artforum’s David Velasco (who has recently reported on the Venice Biennale and Art Basel) and others along with a mix of viewers being chauffeured around by MoMA PS1 director Klauss Biesenbach.
While raising a few eyebrows, Klauss has done a fabulous job since officially becoming director in 2009 and the exhibitions currently on view at MoMA PS1 are fantastic. He is also a co-curator of Based in Berlin, on-view in Berlin, Germany until July 24th, 2011.
Ryan Trecartin: Any Ever, will be on-view until September 3rd, 2011.
Next up: Laurel Nakadate: Only the Lonely