Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin at the Zabludowicz Collection

Filed in Reviews by on November 13, 2014

Lizzie Fitch / Ryan Trecartin: Priority Innfield

Zabludowicz Collection

Until 21 December 2014

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The Zabludowicz Collection was founded in 1994 by Poju and Anita Zabludowicz. It has three locations: an office at Time Square New York, three buildings on the island Sarvisalo in Finland used for artist residencies, and its head office in Chalk Farm, London. The collection consists of 5000 artworks, by 500 artists, which are exhibited in rotation at the different sites. Priority Innfield was first commissioned for the Encyclopedic Palace of the 55th Venice Biennial and will be on show at the Zabludowicz Collection in London until December 21st. The work deals with the impact of social media on the representation of our daily lives and the influence of the camera on conceptions of history, identity and evolution.

Artists Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin met during their study at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, the United States. Lizzie Fitch majored in painting and Ryan Trecartin in film, animation and video. Since 2010 they run the Fitch/Trecartin studio in Los Feliz, Los Angeles. They have had solo and group exhibitions at many internationally acclaimed museums including the MoMa, New York; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Guggenheim Museum, New York.

In Fitch and Trecartin’s dystopian future as pictured in Priority Innfield, humans have evolved into animations. By entering the gaming system and university, and by going through different levels (from basic to level one, level two and ultimately CENTER) animations try to become (more) human. The exhibition is made up of several sculptural theatres (small pool house like buildings) that each show a movie. The movie scripts are often hard to understand and the characters appear excessive in their behaviour.

The first sculptural theatre exhibits the video Item Falls, in which individuals (animations) audition to become part of the gaming system. The video CENTER JENNY in the second theatre shows a group of Jennys (much like a sorority) at university. They study their human ancestry through remnants of movies and evolve by imitating the ‘source’, a character that claims to be directly descended from humanity. The video Credits, in the next space, acknowledges the many actors that contributed to the different movies. The last three sculptural theatres are in the back room, one of which has stadium seating and functions as a viewing platform. The soundtrack that is played throughout the exhibition originates here. The video Junior War, opposite, is a nineties home video of teens on a destructive path through a city as part of an annual week-long battle between the seniors and juniors of a school. The final video Comma Boat shows a behind-the-scenes look at Priority Innfield with Ryan Trecartin as the director.

Each stage (sculptural theatre and movie), is a step closer to understanding the work. Each video focuses on a specific part of the story and has it’s own necessity. First an introduction, the viewer knows as little as the animations in the video. Then deepening, you learn to understand the characters in the movie, just as they learn to understand us humans. The credits help to look at aspects of our present world out-of-context (the way the Jennys do) and explain the overly dramatic expressions of the Jennys: they are mimicking our ‘reality TV’. Junior War puts Priority Innfield in a broader time frame and shows the the harsh reality (reality is even more aggressive and intimidating than fiction). The stadium transforms the viewer into participant and back in to an observer, in a manner similar to Trecartin being the camera-man and participant in the video Junior War. And finally, Comma Boat shows the artist as a creator and instigator.

The loud, overwhelming videos only work with the sculptural theatres. These modern day suburban follies show a piece of the world that is projected on screen in a physical form so that the viewer can more easily interact (in a bodily way) and identify with the Jennys. This is enhanced even more by the dim-lighting and the doorway-like mirrors that are placed throughout in the show.

Priority Innfield’s videos can easily be dismissed as loud, gaudy even. But this ‘in your face’ way of communicating is an effective way of showing the madness of our present day life. The videos expose group dynamics and the constant pressure to belong, as well as the profound effect the internet has (had) on our understanding of being. Much like the Jennys, we constantly keep trying to discover our identity within the narrow guidelines set by society in the hopes of evolving into better human beings.

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Mahal De Man

About the Author ()

Mahal de Man is a Dutch artist and graduated at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. In November 2013 she moved to London.

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