Renee Green ArtForum - Find Articles
Renee Green ArtForum - Find Articles: "In the form of an 'idiosyncratic cross-referencing system,' which was reinforced by the mazelike architecture of the space, the themes of travel and the notion of self as a transitory being were explored further in other 'chapters' of the exhibition. For example, in Green's video Some Chance Operations, 1998, people of different origins speak about their conceptions of or experiences in Nepal, while in Archaic Nostalgia, 1996, the On the Road mythology of the Beat generation (represented here by books) is confronted with Robert Frank's The Americans. And in the video that is part of the installation Partially Buried, 1997, Green follows the traces of political, artistic, and personal history at Kent State University, showing the site where Smithson executed his Partially Buried Woodshed in 1970, the commons where four students were shot and killed during a demonstration against the invasion of Cambodia, and the places where Green's mother studied. With this work the concentration shifted to reflections about home and how such a place - in this era of virtual mobility - an be understood, whether as a locality or an emotional state. At stake was the nature of memory. This was reflected on other levels in Some Chance Operations as well, in which Green set out on the traces of the Neapolitan silent film director Elvira Notart, whose once popular work has largely fallen into oblivion.
The question of what remains and who remembers is also interesting in relation to Smithson, whose work - as an antimonument to transitoriness - remains a key chapter in recent art history. From there, Green turns to the question of historiography, to the archiving and ordering system, as in the film stills she arranges on the wall according to her own invented categories, thereby alluding to Conceptual art practices. From this (and much more) Green creates a superabundance of interconnected paths of thought that the viewer no sooner enters than he pleasurably loses his way on the byways and detours of this hyperspace."
and another excerpt:
"Renee Green's installations are complex examinations of overlapping themes that are usually related to the exhibition site. Using an anthropological approach toward her subjects, she researches historical and cultural topics and then offers viewers the results of her studies in videos, texts, and sound elements..."
"In the installation, Green deals with visual representations of the black female body, like the Hottentot Venus and Josephine Baker, which were prominently positioned at the center of Britain and France's popular exoticized gaze. Interestingly, Green's manipulation of the scale of the images, particularly of the small Hottentot Venus image, and the blurred focus of the Baker photographs precisely resists visual apprehension.
Green also concentrations on the fascination with the black female body as manifest discursively in nineteenth century travel literature and in critiques of Baker's performances. In contrast to the visual images the texts are blown up larger than life. One of the enlarged panels of the excerpts from a travel account reads: "The dance of the Negresses is incredibly indecent . . . she gets into positions so lascivious, so lubricious that it's impossible to describe them . . . It's true that the Negresses don't appear to have the depraved intentions which one would imagine; it's a very old custom, which continues innocently in this country; so much so that one sees children of six performing this dance, certainly without knowing what they're leading up to." The visual and discursive mediations on the black female both in the metropoles of Britain and France and in distant countries, as recorded by a traveler, are juxtaposed in the installation."