Ryan Trecartin's rise within the art market has been ballistic. His practice has been enthusiastically framed, or perhaps I should say marketed, like MTV, as the voice of a generation--a principle dear to our institutions of higher curating. I am referring of course to Younger than Jesus. Trecartin's ambitious installation functioned as the exhibition's battle cry--the exuberant and idiomatic scream of a generation.
The embrace of Trecartin has been nearly universal. There has been no true criticism, but much written about his work. It certainly elicits the awe of those joyous technicians of excoriating prose that rest content tracing the surface and contours of a practice without assessing its stakes or its inner logic. Yes, I know. It is altogether untimely, even unfashionable--dare I say unzeitgemäß in my father's tongue--to insist on the persistent necessity of taking a position. For one might legitimately ask what does a position mean in a world more post than any post.
Yet, if one stubbornly persists in searching for his artistic position, one need not go further than his current curatorial effort at Vox Populi, entitled VOX V. True to his practice and to his credit, Trecartin approaches the show with utmost seriousness, which within the logic of his practice necessitates a certain requisite lack of sincerity. If Trecartin's work and the world it powerfully evokes and indisputably engenders does indeed place itself under the sign of being post all posts, the end of all ends--post-post-modern, post-gender, post-castration--in playing the role of curator he by no means disappoints, joyously affirming the end of all sincerity, a world in which mockery is akin to the highest praise.
The logic that is here laid bare for all to see and to consume is simply put the death drive--a tendency to regression, to homeostasis, that is the plight of all organic life. The orchestration and monstrous pairings that result whether through ingenuity or happenstance systematically and incisively demolish the claim to value, to seriousness, to integrity, and in the last instance, to art. All distinctions and pretension to critique here fade away into oblivion, indifference. He weaves an obscene context in which each individual work through no fault of its own devalues itself, declaring its headlong drive to annihilation by simply being a part of the collection.
We have an instance here where the whole, the organon, destroys the autonomy of the parts by mixing them all in an hermaphrodictic bog. The individual works are reduced to their bare and pathetic desire to simply be in the show. A work adequate to the monstrosity of the spectacle would no doubt have to insist on its self-effacement, simply and adeptly enunciating its own death...2 + 3 + times, its own desire to be consumed.
But for all its virtues there is too little thought for my taste. Yes, thought is sacrificed to the joys of consumption. I at the very least wonder why in Trecartin's truly abject future the only determinant of identity clearly not purportedly overcome is capital. For those who invest his characters and the virtual world they inhabit with what at times appears to be a utopian joy should be reminded that their blissful identitilessness may be little else than the effect of the grotesque machinations of a world stripped bare by the ruthlessly abstract potency of the universal equivalent. The promise of virtual equality may be nothing more than the freedom extorted by the solicitation to consume.