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Dennis Cooper writes about artist Ryan Trecartin in the pages of Artforum this month, situating the 24-year-old’s work somewhere alongside that of “Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith, and early John Waters.”

From the piece:

“…everything aesthetic about his videos — from the baroque screenplays that polish flippant teen slang into cascading soliloquies to the dueling fascinations with profound loneliness and extremely affected behavior to the swarming, jumbled, yet precisely composed shots that pack each frame to the rafters with visual stimuli — displays a near obliviousness to what’s going on in his field, whether it be the cliches of current video art or the signature styles of past experimental films.”

A bit later Cooper describes how Trecartin was discovered:

“Trecartin was “discovered” last spring when a student at the Cleveland Institute of Art showed visiting artist Sue De Beer a few minutes of a crazy video he’d found on the dating/networking website www.friendster.com. Upon her return to New York, De Beer told writer and former New Museum curator Rachel Greene about her find. With only the artist’s first name to go on, together they searched Friendster’s database until they found Trecartin’s profile, then wrote to ask if he would send them a copy of the video in its entirety — a forty-one-minute work titled “A Family Finds Entertainment,” 2004. Floored by what she saw, Greene began showing the piece to enthusiastic artists, curators, and gallerists. Several months and much buzz later, Trecartin’s first solo show opens in January at Los Angeles gallery QED; the J. Paul Getty Museum, an institution not exactly known for supporting young, unproven artists, has commissioned a new work that will be exhibited this spring; and AFFE, the video that started it all, will be in this year’s Whitney Biennial.”

According to the article, Trecartin was recently based in New Orleans but left after Hurricane Katrina “destroyed Trecartin’s elaborately painted, decorated home (featured prominently in the video) and with it virtually all of the nondigital artwork he’d ever made.” He now lives in L.A. Concludes Cooper in his piece: ” THE wonder of Trecartin’s videos is that his approach seems as intuitive and driven by a mad scientist–style tunnel vision as it is rigorous and sophisticated, grounded in his expert editing and inordinate gift for constructing complex avant-garde narratives. For this reason, his movies resist the kind of deconstructive analysis through which one normally manages to strip new, challenging art down to its nuts and bolts. It’s early yet, but the great excitement of Trecartin’s work is that it honestly does seem to have come from out of nowhere.” Click on the link above to read the rest of the piece, which includes a great description of the narrative for “A Family Finds Entertainment.”

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