by JC Gonzo
Wynne Greenwood‘s one-woman punk performance art act, Tracy + the Plastics, consists of three characters (all played by Greenwood) enacted through multimedia performance of video and music. By conversing with pre-recorded versions of herself portraying different bandmates, Greenwood weaves a larger narrative of feminist and personal-political commentary through her musical live sets. Greenwood’s personas Tracy, Nikki, and Cola make up the band and discuss art theory, queer theory, band practice, and just about everything under the umbrella of DIY counter-culture openly amongst themselves and the audience creating an ontological experience of radical girl culture.
Now through July 15th at the Henry Art Gallery is Notes on Tracy + the Plastics in Seattle, WA, a newly compiled video archive of the performances spanning from 1999 to 2006. Greenwood’s work and performances have been at the Whitney Biennial, Tate Modern, The Kitchen, and more. Her work has drawn comparisons from Miranda July to Devo.
A 2001 statement from Wynne Greenwood on the project:
“For the past two years I’ve been working on Tracy + the Plastics, a band I started with myself – and myself – and myself. I play the parts of Nikki (keyboards), Cola (drumbeats) and Tracy (singer). Live, Nikki and Cola are included as images in a projected landscape that backs me up and fills me in. Prerecorded music plays through speakers. I sing live and talk to my “band” in between songs. Nikki asks Cola why she puts socks down her pants, to look like a dick or a third dimension? Cola turns to me, Tracy, and asks my advice. “I don’t put socks down my pants,” I say. Cola says she does it to look more real. There’s a history, a reality created by the interaction between the self and the image of the self.
When an individual in a marginalized group talks to a recorded image of themselves it empowers the individual to open the door to the understanding and celebration that she/he/it can be deliberate. It is an interaction with a fragmented self. By fragmented, I mean a cohesive identity that’s constructed from different, often conflicting, parts of society, culture, and life that we relate to because popular culture has no whole identity to offer its audience other than one that resembles the ruling class. We can come out. And then come out again. We can rearrange our world how we want it.
An interview with Tracy goes like this: Q “What does it mean to be Tracy?” A “Tracy means front in some language. When people call TRACY! it’s a call to the front.” In a continuum, the margin exists to the side of the center. If we add dimensions, then the margin becomes back and the center becomes front. A Tracy + the Plastics performance attempts to destroy the inherent hierarchical dynamic of those “spaces” by placing as much importance on the video images (the Plastics) as the live performer (Tracy). The front interacts with the back in a way that emphasizes their equality and the dependence on one another to dismantle their roles and prescribed boundaries.”