I have a hard time thinking up titles. Literal and descriptive ones, somewhat sad, come to mind. If I try to make them cute, the effect is just as pathetic. So I asked the artists. The best suggestion came from Slater Bradley while early in the afternoon in his studio we watched a late afternoon light coming from across the river as it descended over the Hudson. It was a melancholy, sort of yellowish light. It's also the title of one of the works he has on display and one of the verses from the song "Condition Oakland" by Jawbreaker. I checked with McNamara (during a lunch at a small Chelsea restaurant --- not worth talking about the light) He gave his approval, added that it could be applied to all his works and - to dispel any doubts - called Trecartin in Philadelphia who agreed.
What does "This is my condition" mean? What is "This?" Questions don't apply here. "This is my condition" doesn't have to mean anything, because it expresses everything someone could say about himself without going over the top or sounding fake.
So let's talk about what the title doesn't say about the things surrounding him. We have the "human condition", the "post-modern condition," and the unavoidable "social conditions," which are all very "last century".
The title does not take on only one theme. It includes a group of works and artists, who spark us into thinking about what we have continued to be, seem, and how we have viewed and moved within the time and place that luck doled out to us. There is no way we can single out a distilled expression of the subjectivity that stands out from the effective presence of a body. We already know that the existential and social planes are either indissociable or incompatible (it all depends on the definitions you give them --- but the end results is the same).
But the well-worn confusions between conscience and chemistry, between fiction and reality (or the old "simulacrum"), between truth and painted backdrop (or the grandiose "super-scenario") exist nonetheless.
At one point Slater wanted to be - and possibly still does - a dandy. It isn't that it's not possible. In fact it's so possible that it's not worth it ---either by going this route or camping it up. So, what's left is melancholy and nostalgia ("Boulevard of broken dreams") but nostalgia for what if the object of the longing is as current as everything else around us?
McGinley sets his loving sights on real bodies (or how they might have been before they were normal, everyday bodies) left to be free (he doesn't create scenarios; he offers us "situations" and creates "conditions") within the most realistic natural spaces he can find: "from the mountains to the prairies" and within the bowels of caves (that look like Wagnerian sets). They are most likely unrealizable self-portraits (a lá Jack Pierson) or body doubles (a lá Slater with his favorite actor/stand-in Benjamin Brock).
McNamara, like all of us, doesn't know if he's dancing, falling, standing upright acting ("I thought it was you"), showing himself off, dying, or surviving ("The latest in blood and guts"). It's the unending persistence of the body's or the image's movement ("Sam spinning infinitely") that marks the difference between life and death.
Pierson, in this unexpected series of abstract works, abstractly recreates an infinity of reconstruction and interpretation possibilities and an irremediable uncertainty within the meanings of discourses and figures.
Trecartin creates a new breed of films where the characters are possessed, in digital ecstasy, and accelerate and propagate the delirium. They are frantic figures whose rationale for existence is to keep moving within the incomprehensible narratives they single out.
Each actor creates and nurtures his own place in the fiction, just as we all do in the real world. Good luck!
Alexandre Melo | April 21, 2010