Transition is a vague but appropriate title for Watts’ fragmentary collection of songs, routines, moments, recreations, parodies and monologues. The shifts between style, form and voice are numerous and varied. The liminal points became my primary place of interest, the place of entrances and exits, the zooms, pans, freeze frames, dissolves, and montage of abruptly colliding media. The one unifying element would seem to be an ironic stance, so much so that during an apparently “sincere” dance video, the mind searches for a comedic puncture. Is this a riff on sexy club numbers, a jazzercize routine meets corporate advertisement? By this point, the irony is built-in, internalized -a given. A myriad of clich├ęs are eviscerated – beginning with the award acceptance speech, the period-film blockbuster, the shakespearean soliloquy, the talk show psychodrama, the youtube video blog, the hip-hop song, and on and on. It’s hard to get a footing here and perhaps that’s the point. We know we’re supposed to laugh and much of Transition is truly funny. The merging of signifiers, the emptying of significance, the exposure of tropes… The point of stability is the moment of breakage – the way one reference is whisked away to reveal another, or overlaid with a contradictory image. Reggie Watts is a highly skilled performer, with a comedian’s timing and a musician’s voice. But I kept waiting for a moment which would bring together these fragments. I wondered if we would break through the irony to show a “true” conviction, or retrospectively unite these pop-culture appropriations within a thread of meaning. Perhaps we are left simply with a skill in referencing and recognizing a vast array of momentary specifics – believing none, belonging to none (or all) and holding each at arm’s length for observation, dissection and parody.
- Seth Nehil