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Fondazione Prada opens the exhibition "Whether Line" by Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin
Exhibition view of “Lizzie Fitch | Ryan Trecartin: Whether Line” Fondazione Prada, 2019. Photo Andrea Rossetti. Courtesy Fondazione Prada.

MILAN.- Commissioned by Fondazione Prada for its Milan venue, “Whether Line”, the large-scale multimedia installation conceived by Lizzie Fitch (USA, 1981) and Ryan Trecartin (USA, 1981), 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, “the Athens set is definitely different to 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 stay and do their work in this unique setting.”

In order to explain the entire creative process, Ryan Trecartin 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 neighbor, 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 theaters 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 of movies by Ryan Trecartin. “The Movies”, presented in the Cinema of Fondazione Prada from 6 April to 30 September 2019, anticipates the global premiere of Whether Line, the new feature-length movie shot in Ohio.

“The Movies” is presented in Fondazione Prada’s Cinema in three chronologically organized programs from 6 April to 30 September. Program 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 realized 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. It will feature five extensive essays by Philip Auslander, Adrienne Edwards, Ed Halter, Roxana Marcoci and Francesco Spampinato, and an illustrated chronology from 2000 to 2019, including installation views of the exhibition in Milan.

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