Video artist Ryan Trecartin brings drag queens, monsters, and trash TV to Berlin

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Queer filmmaker Ryan Trecartin has done it again. As part of Berlin Art Week, which kicked off earlier this month but runs well into the winter, he’s exhibiting “Site Visit,” a multi-channel video piece featuring drag queens and monsters.

As always, Trecartin juxtaposes reality TV trash with something much deeper. This multi-room show at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art revisits his outlandish alter-egos and now includes digital characters such as cats and flying bats.

When you meet Trecartin in real life, he’s the most normal, preppy, professional art school graduate you could imagine (he attended the Rhode Island School of Design). Onscreen, however, he’s a complete maniac. Here he’s wearing a pink dress and knee-socks, yelling at everyone like a menstruating camp counselor. And off-screen, he video edits like the Tasmanian Devil. This is internet entertainment at its best.

An excerpt from “I-Be Area,” featuring “Jeff,” who jumps out of a locker to talk about his five boyfriends.

Trecartin rose to fame in the mid-2000’s, primarily by posting his videos to YouTube. Dubbed one of the “top artists to watch” by the Wall Street Journal, he received a Guggenheim award and won the patronage of influential art collector Charles Saatchi. He also showed in the Whitney Biennial before he was 30. Now repped by the most elite commercial galleries, Trecartin will co-curate the Generational Triennial at the New Museum in New York next year.

This is like a sitcom on acid. You’ve got characters you might see in a photo by David Lachapelle but acting like they just stepped out of The Golden Girls. There’s out-of-sync dialogue, sped-up voices, dress-up characters with wigs, face paint, and white contact lenses. In Trecartin’s work, it’s permanently Halloween.

An excerpt from “A Family Finds Entertainment” by Ryan Trecartin, an ADD music video-ish ride featuring adults in face paint.

Shot in a former masonic temple in L.A., this latest video takes us into a world of handycams in boiler rooms and extreme sport cameras mounted on drones. It comes off like a bitchy horror flick filled with binoculars, tents, breaking mirrors, and drag queens in pink wigs.

Karl Lagerfeld once said, “Think pink but don’t wear it.” That’s just the first rule Trecartin broke.

Ryan Trecartin’s “Site Visit” runs until January 11, 2015 at the KW-Berlin. www.kw-berlin.de.

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