Solo Exhibition | Comma Boat: Ryan Trecartin

April 27, 2019 – June 30, 2019

Opening reception: Friday, April 26, 7pm

Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art | 1, 460 Portage Ave | Winnipeg MB | Canada

Plug In ICA was truly honoured to present Comma Boat by Ryan Trecartin, which opened on Friday, April 26, 2019. This three channel video installation was characteristic of Trecartin’s work in its critique of mass media and celebrity culture, which he achieves through a controlled chaos.

Trecartin figures prominently in his movies, taking on a variety of persona that vibrate on screen as a cast of characters. In Comma Boat, his portrayal of a manic film director working on set is hyperbolic in its dramatization of the authority and immense ego of a film or television director. The writer Chris Glazek describes Trecartin performances as personifying the oscillation “between feelings of omnipotence and self-doubt. As if a post-human, post-gendered reincarnation of the Fellini character in 8 1/2, the director gloats and frets about professional and ethical transgressions. ‘I know I lied to get ahead,’ he admits at one point. ‘I’ve made up so many different alphabets just to get ahead in my field.’ The director is fancier now, but the fear nags that he might be ‘repeating’ himself ‘like a dumb soldier ova and ova and ova and ova.’ ”

Trecartin is only one part of a frenzied thirty-three minutes of shifting camera angles and pans that move between the rooms of a Los Angeles movie studio. The set of Comma Boat is a disorderly mess that the camera flows through capturing people moving about with a tense edge, as we watch them desperately try to keep the camera’s focus, or see them unravel as their insecurity manifests under the scrutiny of an unruly crew of performers and us the viewers.

Ryan Trecartin is an influential artist known for his dense and frenetic video installations made with his long time collaborator, Lizzie Fitch. Since studying at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early 2000s, he has risen to international acclaim for his signature and emblematic movies works that are hyper and accelerated representations of television and film production. He has exhibited as part of the 2006 Whitney Biennial and has since participated in large international group exhibitions, including the 6th Busan Biennale, South Korea; 100 years, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY; the 3rd Singapore Biennale; the 12th Biennale de Lyon; and the Berlin Biennale (2016). He has had solo exhibitions at the Power Plant, Toronto (2010); Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2014); and La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2016) to name a few. He is currently based in Athens, Ohio, where he and Fitch, have their studio. Their collaborative practice is acknowledged as Trecartin. Whether Line by Fitch/Trecartin is currently on view at the Prada Foundation Milan until August 5, 2019, and is accompanied by a book focusing on their collaborative practice. Trecartin and Fitch/Trecartin are represented by Regen Projects, Los Angeles, and Sprüth Magers, Berlin. Trecartin’s movies are also archived and distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York. A monograph on Trecartin’s work was published in 2011 by Rizzoli press, New York.

All public programming is FREE and open to the public. Everyone welcome!


Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art recognizes we are on Treaty One Territory, the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe, Métis, Cree, Dakota, Dene, and Oji-Cree Nations.

Comma Boat was Courtesy of Fitch/Trecartin Studio; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Sprüth Magers, Berlin; and Electronic Arts Intermix; (EAI), New York.

Plug In ICA extends gratitude to our artists, generous donors, valued members and dedicated volunteers. With special thanks to our Director’s Circle.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council. We could not operate without their continued financial investment and lobbying efforts.

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