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Lizzie Fitch / Ryan Trecartin

October 7, 2018 - January 6, 2019

The Baltimore Museum of Art



As collaborators, Lizzie Fitch (b. 1981, Bloomington, IN) and Ryan Trecartin (b. 1981, Webster, TX) came to prominence in the mid-aughts with a body of work made in response to the rampant proliferation of the internet and its widespread cultural impact on youth culture. The artists’ frenzied video installations, or “sculptural theaters,” immerse viewers in disorienting and fragmented narratives that simulate the short memory of social and entertainment media. Fitch / Trecartin’s practice considers the digital landscape’s widespread influence, and particularly the unfixed nature of language and identity online. The protagonists of their ‘movies’ (the term preferred by the artists) seem to embody fluid identities between sexualities, genders, and races; these characters communicate in similarly uncertain terms, across complex scripts written by Trecartin that bring together colloquialisms, philosophical musings, pop-cultural references, and technical jargon. Marked by anxiety, irreverence, and humor, Fitch / Trecartin’s body of work attempts to encapsulate a generation that is intertwined with digital technologies, media bombardment, and the influence of reality television, smartphones, and YouTube.



Lizzie Fitch / Ryan Trecartin

Wouldy's Grill, 2016


In the movie Mark Trade, exhibited in a sculptural theater that resembles a bar, the hard-drinking protagonist delivers disjointed musings about wine, loneliness, and the end of the human era. The work follows the behind-the-scenes conflicts and confessions of this eccentric personality and his production crew during a series of shoots that exhibit all the trappings of reality TV.



Lizzie Fitch / Ryan Trecartin

Trigger Rink, 2016


The movie Permission Streak opens with a question: “Can you tell the difference between a camera and a camera?” Shown in a sculptural theater that combines aspects of gymnastics and aquatics facilities, the movie jumps jarringly between a string of unrelated vignettes, simulating the speed and short memory of social and entertainment media. In one scene, two backpackers in heavy makeup discuss depression, their love of photoshoots, and the “happy feelings” that come with having one’s picture taken.



Ryan Trecartin

Junior War, 2013


The unscripted movie Junior War follows a group of teenagers gathered in the woods for a late-night party; the work is composed of night-vision footage shot by Trecartin as a high school senior in the year 2000. Captured before smartphones became ubiquitous devices, the young people in the movie treat the camera’s presence as a novelty. When juxtaposed with the two other movies presented in this exhibition, the work reveals a shift over the last twenty years in the relationship between people and cameras. At the same time, the movie suggests a continuity in youth desires to test conventions and perform for the camera, enduring commonalities that permeate social media and link these three works.

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