Immersive Film-Inspired Art Installation Coming to Milan’s Fondazione Prada

Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin- production still from work in progress- Fitch Trecartin Studio -Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Fitch Trecartin Studio

The new multimedia "Whether Line" show from L.A.-based artists Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin imagines a haunted rural film set.

Los Angeles-based artists Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin are heading to Milan for their new show, “Whether Line,” which opens April 6 at Milan’s Fondazione Prada. The show is set to have a four-month run through Aug. 5.

Fitch and Trecartin, who met at the Rhode Island School of Design, began collaborating in 2000. The duo’s video work has always been a magnifying glass on current culture, a sort of YouTube video that has come to life and engulfed the spectator. Their films portray gender-fluid youth in Day-Glo makeup and costumes, speaking a mile a minute in high-pitched otherworldly voices. 

The resulting works are hypnotic and addictive, and Hollywood has taken notice. Their fans include everyone from Maurice Marciano to James Franco, and their 2013 movie Center Jenny starred Aubrey Plaza, Alia Shawkat, Jena Malone, Nathalie Love and Molly Tarlov. 

In 2016, the duo created a custom photo shoot and short film for W magazine starring Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid as “placebo pets” or friendly, domesticated pets to an imagined alien race that takes over Earth. A cover shoot turned them into knee-less dolls (which many Instagrammers mistook for a Photoshop fail) and various sets gave them prosthetic noses and multiple limbs.

For “Whether Line,” the artists have uprooted their L.A. studio to a quiet countryside in Ohio. According to a statement from Prada Fondazione, the show, which has been in the works since 2016, explores the meaning of borders and boundaries and “the perpetual promise of ‘new’ terrain and the inherent instability of territorial appropriation.”

The upcoming exhibit conceives a new film as a “haunted map,” complete with permanent sets including a hobby-barn commissary, a river, a forest watchtower and, of course, a revolving cast of incredible characters.

The show will take over the Fondazione, occupying several galleries as well as the external courtyard, and is meant to be experienced by visitors as a living movie. Trecartin has referred to his work as “adjacent sci-fi,” calling to mind a current alternate reality rather than an imagined past or future. The artists hope the new installation will allow visitors to experience both “the desire to escape and the pervasiveness of systems and techniques that bind us together.”

The Fondazione Prada’s Cinema will screen a film retrospective from the artists throughout the engagement, as well as publish a book based on Fitch and Trecartin’s collaborative work.

The highly anticipated show is just one more reason art lovers will be planning trips to Italy this year. Venice’s 58th Biennale opens in May, with American curator Ralph Rugoff at the helm and a theme of “May You Live in Interesting Times,” expected to reflect the increasingly political nature of the art world today.