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Brian Droitcour on Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch's new work


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Brian Droitcour writes about Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch’s new videos. Droitcour pays close attention to their multi-camera footage, which has evolved since the duo’s earlier videos featuring single-camera footage. While Trecartin and Fitch are exceedingly difficult artists to write about, Droitcour has probably shed most light on the duo’s practice, penning the important piece “Making Word” on Trecartin’s use of language back in 2011. Check out his profile in partial below, in full via Art in America.

A nervous girl is sitting and fidgeting in a room. “Can you tell the difference between a camera and a camera?” asks an off-screen voice. The girl breaks her downcast gaze to furtively glance at the two cameras recording her. “Yes,” she whispers. This is one of the first scenes in Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin’s twenty-minute movie Permission Streak (2016). The question of cameras and the differences between them is one that Fitch and Trecartin may have asked themselves while editing their latest works. They used to shoot with one camera at a time and simulated a multiplicity of perspectives with montage. But in recent years their shoots have involved several handheld digital cameras, as well as drones (operated remotely by Fitch), and GoPros attached to actors’ bodies.

Permission Streak and the three other works in the “Site Visit” suite (all 2016), on view at New York’s Andrea Rosen Gallery through April 20, have all the hallmarks that Fitch and Trecartin’s movies are known for: disorienting editing and fragmented narratives; soundtracks with heavy bass and ambient noise; garish pancake makeup and K-Mart collage costuming; dialogue that sutures familiar colloquialisms and dictions into an alien creole; and the sculptural screening rooms constructed for gallery presentations, which use furnishings from Ikea and the Home Depot to remix the generic domestic environments where other audiences might be watching the same movies over the Internet. But the proliferation of footage sources is one of several stylistic innovations that make new movies like those in “Site Visit”—Temple Time, Permission Streak, Stunt Tank, and Mark Trade—strikingly different from earlier ones by the artists, who have been collaborating for fifteen years. Scenes have been shot outdoors using natural light. Some of the actors wear little to no makeup, and chose outfits from their everyday attire instead of donning ones designed by the artists and their crew. Earlier movies were carefully scripted, but the new ones include Trecartin’s directorial instructions, actors’ spontaneous commentary, flubbed lines, and physical bloopers. There’s also more physical movement. In the breakthrough suite “Any Ever” (2009–10), characters sat in one place and delivered monologues, but in “Site Visit,” they walk, explore, and perform stunts. Temple Time has GoPro footage of skydivers in freefall. Segments like this made the exhibition at times feel like the artists briefly leaped out of the tightly constructed world of their art for a gulp of fresh air.

*Image: Ryan Trecartin: Permission Streak, 2016, single-channel HD video, 21 minutes. Courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.