Weekly Update — Fab at the Fabric Workshop

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This week’s Weekly has my review of the summer shows at the Fabric Workshop and Museum.  Below’s the copy with some pictures.

Ryan Trecartin’s video projections are the wildest thing to come to the Fabric Workshop and Museum since Virgil Marti’s black-lighted Bullies Wallpaper appeared in the men’s bathroom in its old space in the Gilbert Building. Trecartin’s three lengthy narratives (clocking in at 68 minutes, 50 minutes and 31 minutes) are installed in separate prop-strewn screening rooms that mimic the colorful chaotic worlds in the videos.

Ryan Trecartin, image from one of his videos, now playing at both the New Museum and the Fabric Workshop.
Ryan Trecartin, image from one of his videos, now playing at both the New Museum and the Fabric Workshop. I took the photo when I visited the show at the New Museum.

Collaborating with an ensemble of friends adorned with garish makeup, Trecartin—who plays multiple roles in the videos—is the charisma that holds the works together. He vamps his way through the videos, a gender-ambiguous and childlike cipher trying to negotiate the world of bitchy people, screwy relationships and, most of all, a slippery cyber reality.

Characters talk at a furious pace and the sound is sometimes distorted to the point of incomprehensibility. Some of what you can hear is pretty chilling in its mimicking of the earnest sales pitches we often hear on commercials. “I’m really young and post-device and everything’s in me,” says one young woman. “Destruction of our values should not be seen as a failure but an opportunity,” says another.

Ryan Trecartin speaking with Libby at the FWM opening. He leaves his cherubic looks behind when he immerses himself in his video personas..
Ryan Trecartin speaking with Libby at the FWM opening. He leaves his cherubic looks behind when he immerses himself in his video personas..

One of Trecartin’s personas wants to edit the Constitution by removing the words “people” and “humanity” and replacing them with “situation” and removing the word “God” and replacing it with “Internet.” It seems funny, but the message about our topsy-turvy world of economic hucksterism and debased values is on point. We’re cooked, these videos scream.

Trecartin’s videos are also featured in the New Museum’s “Younger Than Jesus” show and they’re the best things in that 50-artist roundup.

Tristin Lowe, Mocha Dick, a splendid beast, on the 8th floor.
Tristin Lowe, Mocha Dick, a splendid beast, on the 8th floor.

Meanwhile, in the eighth-floor gallery, Tristin Lowe’s 52-foot white felt Mocha Dick, made in collaboration with the FWM, is a perfect summer piece, evoking the ocean, history and author Herman Melville’s cosmic battle between good and evil. The whale’s dense white massiveness dominates the room, yet the object retains a childlike appeal, like a stuffed animal you want to hug.

Peter Rose speaking in front of one of his videos at the opening. This is not the spooky one. That other is in a separate screening room.
Peter Rose speaking in front of one of his videos at the opening. This is not the spooky one. That other is in a separate screening room.

Elsewhere on the eighth floor, Peter Rose’s sound and light videos have horror-movie magic and in the first-floor gallery, Virgil Marti’s swanky installation—with curtains of golden bones, bone-light fixtures and fur-upholstered settee—is perfect.

Virgil Marti's installation with fur-covered lounge-seat and shimmery golden bones curtain.
Virgil Marti’s installation with fur-covered lounge-seat and shimmery golden bones curtain.

Tristin Lowe, Virgil Marti, Peter Rose and Ryan Trecartin: Through the summer. $3. Fabric Workshop and Museum, 1214 Arch St. and New Temporary Contemporary, 1222 Arch St. 215 561 8888.

Tags

peter rose, Ryan Trecartin, tristin lowe, virgil marti

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