One of the thigns about this Canada Post strike is that I'm about two weeks behind on my New Yorker subscription (online access? What's that?). So when it finally arrived this morning, I hungrily devoured Peter Schjeldal's review of Ryan Trecartin's Any Ever, now at P.S. 1 in New York.
We all remember where Any Ever came from, I'm sure. Last year at the Power Plant, which marshalled every ounce of its art world clout to single out Trecartin, at the ripe old age of 28, for what may well have been its most ambitious show of all time: A seven-room funhouse, or house of horrors, depending on your view of Trecartin's franctically piercing oeuvre (I'm in the latter camp, as I said at the time).
Its recreation at P.S. 1 is a faithful one, according to Schjeldahl's description (which at no point acknowledges the Power Plant's role in its existence. But anyway). Simply put, it is, bizarrely, the least critical Schjeldahl piece I think I've ever read. It's essentially a long, eloquent expository essay on Trecartin's personal history, and a description -- as much as such a thing is possible -- of his movies.
I'm left thinking a coupel of things: That Trecartin has left Schjeldahl, arguably the most consequential critic on earth, in complete awe; or that he's baffled him so completely that he's not sure what to think. I know the feeling. Emerging from "Any Ever" for the first time, I was physically vibrating from the chaotic assault a Trecartin video composition creates. He teases with narrative, then snatches it away; he build scenes, then shatters them into fragments. Non-sequiturs dominate dialogue; the overwhelming sense, that everything is shameless mugging for an omnipresent camera, is maddeningly oblique, and completely bang-on.
Schjeldahl's central observation is a common one: That Trecartin's virtuousic video editing and keen observational gift for the hyper-linked world of look-at-me online self-display makes him something of a generational magus (his word) -- a teller of truths distilled to a potency mere reality can't match, and a visionary for whom the old distinctions of high and low culture mean nothing.
Well, duh. But did you like "Any Ever," Peter? Don't you know? Yeah. Me neither.