Thursday, April 1, 2010

On Trecartin: Yes, I Drank the Kool-Aid, and Dang, was it Tasty! The Art Was Good Too.

The ever-quotable (if not ever-correct) Jerry Saltz has a good saying about buying into art world hype -- I've heard him call it "drinking the Kool-Aid."

Well, when I went to watch five hours of Ryan Trecartin videos at the Power Plant on Saturday -- roughly 7,200 2.5-second scenes, by my estimates -- I was pretty wary about drinking the Kool Aid. I mean Trecartin has received about a bazillion great reviews and awards, which can add up to (a) art world mega success and (b) art world mega suspicion.

In any case, I watched the those five hours of videos and by about a quarter of the way through I myself was a true believer. The Kool-Aid is tasty, and the art is darn good too. I explain a bit of the why in today's NOW:

In his frenetic, absurd videos, Trecartin takes Warhol’s strategies into the Web 3.0 age, using the methods and images of consumer culture to expose same.

Where Warhol used silkscreens and soup cans to prompt a closer look at commercial products (and people as commercial products), Trecartin uses Final Cut Pro and social-media-speak to reveal pressures to package oneself as “sexy” and “successful.”

He also echoes Sherman, using wild makeup, crazy costumes and multiple personas to critique subliminal standards. His CEOs spout nonsensical commercialese (“Go create your own market, you stupid, fucking bitch!”), sport cheap wigs and ride in RVs rather than Town Cars. Comparisons to John Waters, icon of transgressive camp, are also on the money.

Others beg to differ, but I'm staying solid on this one. My only regret is that I had to play the Warhol/Sherman card to make my point. Ah well.


Andrea Carson said...

Nice thoughts, Leah. I dunno, though. I find his work more interesting than really important. I find it intriguing that you played the Warhol/Sherman card...

kim said...

Have you read Margaux Williamson's notes on Trecartin?

Leah Sandals said...

Hey guys,

Thanks for your comments...

No Kim, I haven't read Margaux's comments yet, but look forward to it.

Andrea, yes, I guess by playing the card of famous names what I opted out of doing was attempt to explain why I found the work impressive outside of those reference points. In the end, because the review had to be less than 300 words, I went for the reference points, all the better to make the point more quickly.

I do sincerely believe those comparisons ring true, though, at least for now. And I guess, at least, given my readings of those other artists! (Other people might look at Warhol and Sherman's work quite differently.)