by Sukanya GargMay 12, 2020
Fondazione Prada presented Whether Line, a new exhibition project conceived by Lizzie Fitch (USA, 1981) and Ryan Trecartin (USA, 1981), in its Milan venue from April 6 to August 5, 2019. Commissioned by Fondazione Prada, their large-scale multimedia installation represented the first output of a creative process begun in late 2016, aimed at realising a new movie that investigated the perpetual promise of ‘new’ terrain and the inherent instability of territory.
Taking the idealised rurality endemic to back-to-the-land ideologies as a conceptual starting point, the project blurred the boundaries between different forms of storytelling and experiences, such as films, video exhibitions and art installations, board games and videogames, mass entertainment and theme parks, public and sports events, kiddie parks and skate parks, merry-go-rounds, labyrinths and obstacle courses, and even the audio and video content encountered in waiting-rooms or during long waits in line before entering a haunted house.
For this work, Fitch and Trecartin relocated their house and studio to Athens, in the Ohio countryside, where they conceived the framework for the new movie as a haunted map: a location with its own will and a constellation of permanent built sets, which included a large hobby-barn commissary, a lazy river, and a forest watchtower, occupied by a cast of characters who are simultaneously agents and subjects of the map itself.
In the exhibition, aural and visual echoes of nature and daily life merged with distortions of familiar spaces such as amusement parks, zoos, and institutional hallways amid the familiar experience of walking within restrictions and constraints, extending the narratives, themes and atmospheres of the videos on view and the forthcoming new movie. Whether Line engaged the desire for a participatory movie experience, one in which the audience had a certain opportunity to choose and act, functioning as both spectators and protagonists.
The project was accompanied by the first complete retrospective featuring 21 movies by Ryan Trecartin. The Movies anticipated the global premiere of Whether Line, the new feature-length movie shot in Ohio. Since their first productions in 2001, Trecartin wrote the scripts, directed and edited the movies, relying on close collaboration with Fitch, who fulfilled a variety of roles ranging from an actor playing the primary characters to the realisation of sets and coordination.
The Movies is presented in Fondazione Prada’s Cinema in three chronologically organised programmes from April 6 to September 30, 2019. Programme A is dedicated to the earliest movies, including A Family Finds Entertainment, Trecartin’s final work as a student at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island (USA), and the one that brought him renown thanks to its inclusion in the 2006 Whitney Museum Biennial in New York, and the first feature-length movie, I-BE AREA. Program B brings together the seven movies that make up the project, Any Ever, subdivided into the trilogy, Trill-ogy Comp and the tetralogy Re’Search Wait’S. Program C includes the four movies from the project Priority Innfield, exhibited for the first time at the Venice Biennale in 2013, as well as the last movies the artists realised before moving to Ohio.
The project will be completed by a book published by Fondazione Prada and designed by Tommaso Garner, focusing on Fitch and Trecartin’s expansive collaborative practice which began in 2000.