Dreaming in America

Lizzie Fitch / Ryan Trecartin

Astrup Fearnley Museet


  • Lizzie Fitch / Ryan Trecartin Plaza Point, 2009

    So here we are, sitting in these broken down sets and I already find myself talking like the characters in the videos. Bitching and bickering, so loud and hysterical. Like, everything is greeted as an offense.

    Yeah, they’re pretty fluent in the language of identity politics.

    Haha, noo…. Watching them is fun, but it also makes me feel anxious, claustrophobic. And this guy who keeps flipping the light switch makes me all aunt-ie, like: don’t! Stop it!

    The first time I saw Fitch/Trecartin videos was in Venice, just before I was going on a year long exchange in California. And I was thinking «oh no, is this what I signed up for? Is this the true face of AMERIKKKA?» To some extent it was. But I also wanted to be with them, these fun club kids.

    Yea, like that guy in the bar with the new tan lines. “Look at my new arms – a great purchase.”

    Also notice how no one in the videos are ever getting anywhere. Like those girls at the make shift plane inside someone’s LA mansion; or those guys readying themselves for the club, THEY WONT MAKE IT OUT THE DOOR.

    And it’s so painful to behold! It’s like The Kardashians, the plot is going nowhere, but I could still watch it forever.

    I’m identifying with characters and then getting lost. It seems like the first video is a combination of simulated characters sneaking off to have real experiences and then getting caught in dialogue with their controllers.

    Who knows, maybe what would happen in the end would be really bad.

    Yeah, like murder. It reminds me of a Paul McCarthy video where it’s just a bunch of hot girls in a trailer chopping a person up and having so much fun. Actually, this whole show reminds me of a kinder, more gentile and gender sensitive descendant of McCarthy.

    There’s a feeling of melancholy too. I don’t want to sound mean, but it’s like these people have been abandoned in the debris and surplus trash of culture. Look at all those shitty, messy things they’re surrounded by. Crap someone has designed, manufactured and shipped out to overwhelm the world in an apocalypse of appalling products. Did everyone else leave? All aboard the Tesla of Elon Musk? 

    Maybe. It’s like the characters long to be somewhere else. In a more glamorous, high class, bourgeois world. To be accomplished artists. Models. Successful business people! American Dreams from the backwaters.

    I think Fitch & Trecartin are genuine about this depiction of «low». Like, the other day I saw The Florida Project by Sean Baker, and the footage is really nice. Careful, never intruding, warm colors. But I’m also uneasy about the movie’s aestheticization of the poor and desperate. Because, where is Baker speaking from? He’s of course allowed to make a film like this, but you have to be cautious. Whereas Fitch & Trecartin’s work feels more sincere. Maybe because the sculptures and videos are so humorous and self-deprecating, but never insensitive.

    They’re so accurate at pinpointing the rite junk, like those «5 hour energy»-bottles this girl is gushing down. Or those sculptures down stairs: the abandoned motor with a kid on top wearing a «I’m Single and Free» T-shirt. Fitch & Trecartin are proving to have a sincere and complicated relationship to these objects.

    I love It’s Over – Be More Gay (2006), the silly grins on those sculptures and that hideous lamp. The expressionistic paint is really nice too, and that rug… Maybe they’re planning a vacation to Gran Canaria and can’t wait to get on the plane. While this creepy baby is documenting their joy de vivre, exuberance. The thrill of being alive! The baby’s camera adds ambiguity, like in all Fitch & Trecartin videos: are the characters just posing, or is this frenzied expression their usual mode of being?

    Lizzie Fitch/Ryan Trecartin with Kenny Curran and Brian McKelligott
    It’s Over – Be More Gay, 2006.

    It’s like my family on the Danskebåt this past summer! But for real, I just went to a lecture given by this Marxist economist Richard Wolff. He says Americans have made a deal with capitalism. Work rite into the grave, accept crappy pay, and no health insurance, and in exchange you can have all the random shit your heart desires. I think that makes Americans *like myself* place a spiritually high value to shit. It’s a bad trade, but its a part of the soul now.

    Still, the thought of these sculptures sitting in a pristine marble grand salon or something… I’m not sure if the sculptures makes me feel better about these waste objects. It’s either like sending my grandmother to Paris, or like sending my grandmother to Paris in a cage.

    Lizzie Fitch / Ryan Trecartin Intellectual Property, 2015 Courtesy the artists, Regen Projects, and Sprüth Magers