I went to the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris last Sunday with my husband to see Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch’s exhibit called Any Ever. As soon as you enter the gallery, you know that you’re in for a different kind of museum experience. You enter a world that takes the rhythm of our materialistic, consumer- and career-obsessed US culture and blows it up to Olympic proportions. Out-of-control hyperbole ensues. Encouraged to take flash photography, you move from room to room with an increasing awareness that you are part of the project itself. Each room houses a video installation and a unique sculptural theater in which the viewer is invited to sit in any seat that is accompanied by headphones. You find yourself sitting on bleachers, bed frames, hammocks, picnic tables, and couches, surrounded by hodge-podgery of everyday life (cabinets, sand, chains, hammers to name a few) that make the rooms seem as if they are in the midst of being torn down…or maybe being put up in the first place. Reality is under construction.
My husband’s succinct take on the whole thing, “It was just so annoying.” Although he did enjoy the seating. My own impression on the videos fluctuated between hilarity and fear. The characters are so splintered, multiplied, disjointed, and looped that it is easily the biggest spoof of US mainstream culture and attitudes I’ve ever seen in my life. The characters own their phobias and mania and I’m pretty sure I’ve met versions of aspects of the characters in real life…and hated them/felt bad for them. As hyperbolic and loud (literally) the scenes were, they also weren’t so far from the truth. I heard on the radio today that over 50% of US television is made up of reality TV shows, and its cinéma vérité style is mimicked throughout the rooms. And we are obsessed with our careers! At least in Silicon Valley we are. We’re driven by money or by wanting to get rich and being a do-gooder at the same time. Every other schmo in the valley has his own startup, hoping to make a cool mill off some crap social media idea. Trust me, I study this for a living. So, this is where the “fear” feeling comes into play. I fear that these films are more of a mirror than we’d like to admit.
The New York Times has a great review of the show from when it was at MoMA PS1.