Gretchen Bender, Tracking the Thrill


Gretchen Bender (1951-2004) made a name for herself in the 1980s with works that could “infiltrate and mimic the mainstream media,” as she put it in a 1984 interview with Cindy Sherman. “Tracking the Thrill,” which was co-organized by the Poor Farm, an art space in rural Wisconsin, surveys two parallel tracks in Bender’s practice: her work as critical appropriation artist and her commercial endeavors, which included music videos and the intro graphics for the show “America’s Most Wanted.” The exhibition’s centerpiece is Total Recall, a television “performance” originally installed at the Kitchen in 1987. On 24 monitors and two projection screens, corporate logos and scenes of violence flash by at a staccato rhythm; it is at once spectacular and bitingly critical of “the spectacle.”