Commissioned by Fondazione Prada, the large-scale multimedia installation “Whether Line”, a new exhibition project conceived by Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin for its Milan venue, is held until the 5th of August 2019. It represents the first output of a creative process begun in late 2016, aimed at realizing a new movie that investigates the perpetual promise of “new” terrain and the inherent instability of territory.
Taking the idealized rurality endemic to back-to-the-land ideologies as a conceptual starting point, the project blurs 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 include 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.As underlined by Lizzie Fitch, born 1981 in Bloomington, Indiana: “The Athens set is definitely different from previous sets in many ways. First, in that it is very much engaged with the outdoors, even the interior spaces are all sort of in relation to what is outside of them. The other major way the Athens set is unique is that it is built to stay, rather than as a facade. We want to make the space accessible in some way to visitors. In the long term, we also have a vision of running a small residency program on the property, where people could come to stay and do their work in this unique setting.”In order to explain the entire creative process, Ryan Trecartin – born 1981 in Webster, Texas – adds: “The setting also has made us think about the movie in a much more expanded way than we ever have before. Because the set builds were all behind schedule due to the crazy weather, we ended up needing to shoot alongside the construction and having a lot of the original ideas of how the set was going to be used change. We were also having some drama with our neighbour, so a lot of content around concepts of territory, property and land started to merge with many of the early ideas we were already exploring. Consequently, the movie got a lot darker in many ways. But all the difficulties and obstacles we encountered working with the land were huge gifts to furthering the conceptual framework of the project.”The artists contort these sites through dislocations of time and memory to explore the notion of borders and boundaries—existential, psychosocial, and physical. The same is true for the sculptural theatres conceived for the Podium, the Deposito and the external courtyard of Fondazione Prada’s complex, where the artists stage an immersive intervention in which visitors navigate through constructions and objects, following a unique and partly directed path.
In the exhibition, aural and visual echoes of nature and daily life will merge 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” engages the desire for a participatory movie experience, one in which the audience has a certain opportunity to choose and act, functioning as both spectators and protagonists.The project is accompanied by the first complete retrospective featuring 21 movies by Ryan Trecartin. “The Movies” anticipates 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 realization of sets and coordination.Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin have been working together since they met at Rhode Island School of Design in 2000. Since then, their collaborative work has been included in exhibitions at major institutions around the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA (2006); MoMA PS1, Long Island City, USA (2011); the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (2011–12); the Venice Biennale, Italy (2013); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany (2014–15), and Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway (2018).