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Review: Wynne Greenwood’s ‘Stacy’ At The Cooley Gallery

Friday, September 12, 2014


Photo Credit: Wynne Greenwood, Stacy- Cooley Gallery

A chorus of voices accompanied by layers of sound greets you upon entering "Stacy," queer performance artist Wynne Greenwood’s newest exhibition of work. 

Part of PICA’s annual Time-Based Art Festival, the exhibition at the Cooley Gallery includes a full retrospective of Greenwood’s early performance based work with her punk art band, Tracy + The Plastics (active 1999-2006), as well as newer video and sculptural works. 

The small space of the gallery creates an immersive cave of sound as multiple videos on multiple screens play at once.

Concentrating on the many voices ringing through the air reveals a vital detail: they are all from the same originator – Greenwood herself. 

Tracy + The Plastics may have been a trio, but two of the members, Nicki and Cola, were prerecorded and projected on top of their third member, Tracy, during live performances. All three women had distinct personalities and interacted with the other members of the band both conversationally and musically; however, all three women were also Greenwood.

Their interactions, of Greenwood talking to the others, to an audience, and ultimately to herself, give off a peculiar but alluring air, and the meticulously planned conversations end up seeming spontaneous, natural, and banal. The Plastics’ conversations with each other flit from name preferences to hurt feelings to how they came out (“feet firs.t” “email first,” “phone first”), peppered with small arguments, humor, and long stretches of silence and pause.   

The arrangement of the exhibition space echoes these interactions. One large projected screen faces two smaller screens, each looping video of Tracy + the Plastics performances, all playing at the same time. This cacophony imitates the looking inward that is evident in the performances, the talking to versions of one’s self mirrored by the inward facing screens, communicating to each other. 

All this is punctuated by an empty performance space composed of speakers and microphones facing the largest screen – pointing to the absence of the live, real, Tracy + the Plastics.   

Adjacent to the space dedicated to Tracy + the Plastics is a section of newer works. Projected onto two walls are simultaneously playing videos of sculptural heads constructed by Greenwood, and littered around the ground are some of the actual heads in the videos.

Throughout, the heads act and converse with each other, having nonsensical and banal exchanges in, again, Greenwood’s voice.

All along, watching us from above as we watch the videos, are three gargoyle-like heads made of color gels hanging high up on the walls.  

The interaction between the older and newer work ends up being similar to the interactions between Tracy and Nicki and Cola. Everything is simultaneous, existing together in one narrative. All three women are layered on top of each other during performance, while all three videos are playing simultaneously in the exhibition, layered with the two new video works, and the disorientation of space activated through the use of the high hanging gargoyles. There is no linearity, and through these configurations, both time and space are queered. 

Wynne Greenwood's Stacy is showing at the Reed College Cooley Gallery, 3203 SE Woodstock, Portland. The show runs noon–5 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday (closed Monday) through Oct. 19.


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