Ryan Trecartin - hero
'Center Jenny' (2013)

ACMI and Gertrude Contemporary present

Ryan Trecartin


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21–22 Feb 2015

American artist and filmmaker Ryan Trecartin creates films (which he calls ‘movies’) that unfold like frenzied, futuristic dreams. Chaotic, outrageous, riotous and irreverent, these ‘movies’ are bewildering, non-linear narratives that reflect the media saturated culture of the early 21st century.

Junior War, Comma Boat, CENTER JENNY and Item Falls (all 2013) were first presented at the Venice Biennale in 2013.

Trecartin has been recognised as one of the most innovative young artists working today. His frenetically-edited films can be seen as wildy-stylised expressions of contemporary youth culture.  He applies collage techniques to digital culture as a means of exploring the experience of living in an Internet-obsessed society, and the possible effects that a 24/7 connected existence might have on human beings. His movies are created through an unconventional process in which he collaborates with a cast of family and friends.

The disjointed narratives of Junior WarComma Boat, CENTER JENNY and Item Falls (all 2013) illustrate how identity and celebrity come to be performed in a culture driven by social media and reality television.

Junior War depicts the reckless but not so unusual antics that are so often common ground for teenagers trying to find amusement in the suburbs. Shot in 1999, the footage, mostly filmed in night-vision, shows a group of teenagers partying, playing drinking games, smashing mailboxes, sleeping in cars and generally exercising hormone-driven teenage impulses to be belligerent and destructive.

In Comma Boat, Trecartin plays a cross-dressing, narcissistic director with a gender-blurring cast who perform stunts reminiscent of sorority party antics. He attacks the incomprehensible jargon of an academic conducting ‘field research’ on them, while filming various scenes across a rambling warehouse including a pool-party, a boat cruise, and a college dorm R&B party.

CENTER JENNY features multiple incarnations of an archetypical girl called Jenny. These post-human constructions belong to a caste system in which iterations of this same basic type mimic the ideal, all striving to be as similar as possible.

Item Falls depicts a manic reality television audition to enter a gaming system in which hopeful participants compete with each other, become Second Life avatars, promote themselves, and nurse stunt chickens in their attempt to move from first level to ‘level center’.

Warning: these works are not recommended for children under 15. They contain very strong language, nudity and adult themes. Parental discretion is advised.