Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites, 1991/1999, by Mike Kelley. Part of the exhibitMike Kelley, at MoMA PS1. Opens Sunday, in Long Island City. (Courtesy of Perry Rubenstein Gallery. Photograph by Joshua White/ JWPictures.com.)
NYC: Between the Door and the Street, a performance initiated by Suzanne Lacy, at Park Place and the Brooklyn Museum. Opens Thursday, in Brooklyn. The performance will take place on the afternoon of Saturday, October 19.
NYC: Vernacular Criticism, a talk by Brian Droitcour, at the New Museum. This Saturday at 3pm, on the Lower East Side.
One of the best visual tricks in Ryan Trecartin’s solo show at PS1: A mirror on the floor reflected the video on the screen on the wall — allowing the viewer to take in the already-hallucinatory spectacle upside down. (Photo by C-M.)
Ryan Trecartin at PS1
I’ve been pondering the Ryan Trecartin show over at PS1 and felt like I needed to come back to it in a more meaningful way, since I think that my initial assessment was quite glib. I’m gonna be honest: the work still grates on my nerves. The relentless Alvin and the Chipmunks talk inspires a prejudice I don’t know that I can overcome. (I also find Elmo exasperating, so it may just be me.)
But, the show at PS1 did make me appreciate Trecartin’s work more than I had in the past. I’d seen his videos at the Hammer Museum in L.A. a few years back and they’d pretty much driven me nuts. I appreciated what he was doing visually: the gender-bending, the banal, suburban-style backdrops peopled by surreal scenarios and the self-centered internet-ish habit of having characters speak over each other rather than engage in dialogue. But the cumulative effect of spending a couple of hours watching his videos left me feeling as if I’d been subjected to an eternity of Nyah Nyah Cat. It was an orgy of excess — with characters who were excessive, scenarios that were excessive, dialogue that was excessive, overstimulation delivered in industrial doses, the raging American id as channeled by the YouTube generation.
His work is still about excess — the show at PS1 eats up a whole lot of real estate and no doubt has a fairly spectacular carbon footprint. But I have to admit that the surreal sculptural sets from which you view the work made this exhibit, more than any other I’ve seen of his, far more intriguing. The squishy chairs and giant headsets left me feeling as if I was truly part of the work. In addition, the wall-sized video projections gave the whole thing a kind of sci-fi vibe. In fact, as my partner-in-crime reminded me, it was right out of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 — a world in which the walls talk and the citizenry has no ability to turn them off. Montag, the main character bemoans this condition: “Nobody listens anymore. I can’t talk to the walls because they’re yelling at me. I can’t talk to my wife; she listens to the walls.”
Viewed in that light, I came away respecting the gesture, even if the tweaky nature of the characters still left me irritated. And even though it left me wondering at what point an artist’s commentary becomes the act that he’s critiquing. But maybe that’s the point…
In short, the ‘The (S) Files’ confirms what should be obvious but rarely is in the art world: there are scads of artists out there with careers and lives that don’t, whether by chance or by choice, revolve around a few square blocks of mid-Manhattan art real estate. At the same time another truth is demonstrated: In a highly competitive market that turns art schools into art mills, a lot of art, no matter where it comes from, looks like a lot of other art everywhere.
Kyle Chayka at Hyperallergic thinks some critics just aren’t looking hard enough for good work. I think I land somewhere in the middle: you’ll always find something fresh if you search for it, just like you might find orchids in a swamp, but it might mean a whole lotta slogging through navel-gazey art school mumbo jumbo to turn it up.
Stories that make me realize I should never bellyache about anything ever: Photojournalists talk about the pictures that almost got them killed.
I’ve enjoyed the Rebus-like arrangement of images that Joseph Maida and Katie Murray have gathered for their exhibit, Picture Consequences — in which one artist responds to another’s image and vice versa. You can see the sequential stream of photos here, or at the Home Front Gallery in Long Island City through August 27.
Right outta Star Wars: Afterparty by MOS at PS1 in Queens. (Photos by C-M.)
An architectural installation that appears to have been upholstered with the fur of a thousand Wookies. A tiny video of a screaming lady embedded into the wood floor. A swimming pool that is both full of water and totally empty. Plus: elevators armed with LEDs and rooms carpeted with vinyl records. If you were looking for some astonishingly stonnerrific art with which to cap off your summer, then make a beeline for PS1, in Long Island City, where you can put the strawberry cough to excellent use.
You’ve got a week to blaze and gaze, since some of the pieces will be taken down after Sept. 28.