15 July–10 September 2016
Spazio Culturale Antonio Ratti
Organized as part of the XXII edition of the CSAV - Artists Research Laboratory, Tracing was Renée Green's first solo exhibition in an institutional space in Italy. In Tracing, Green continued her recurrent and ongoing process of examining forms of relation of perception, sensation, feeling, thinking. This included the question: What is specific about a sentient being defined as human?
Taking into consideration the monumental architecture of the church of San Francesco in Como, which displayed traces of its alterations since medieval times, Green presented physically light and ephemeral works; tracing many pasts, the works resonated with the architecture in a conceptually rich installation in which films, sounds and a Space Poem made of textile banners were combined with the perceivers' circulation through space to provide a layered and kaleidoscopic sensory experience.
The visitor was welcomed to the former church by two sound works: Vanished Gardens (2004), and Imaginary Places (A to Z) (2002); placed in two of the aisle's chapels, both pieces set the exhibition's sonic tone with an incantatory whispered recitation invoking both imagined and vanished locations.
San Francesco's central nave's ceiling hosts Space Poem #6 (Tracing) (2016), thirty colourful textile banners produced in Como by Ratti S.p.A; specially created for Tracing, each banner bears the name of a historical garden which had vanished or changed through time, as well as a variety of cartographic references spanning 2000 years; by combining gardens, exemplars of physically attainable paradise, and maps, images drawn to represent the world, both culled from this planet's vast storehouse of existing lands and cultures, Green's Space Poem #6 provided an exquisite reminder of humans' perpetual attempts to link what was desired with what was imagined, amid earth and the cosmos.
Projected in a suspended screen in the apse was Green's film Begin Again, Begin Again (2015), composed around architect Rudolf M. Schindler's 1912 manifesto, Modern Architecture: A Program; the film's complex structure was narrated in a deep resonant voice, allowing a variety of consciousnesses to emerge: from Schindler's numbered pronouncements on architecture to Thomas Mann's ruminations on life; from a sweeping chronological vista of 128 years, to Paul Bowles and Green's mediations on the strangeness of survival. Hidden in the recesses of the church one could encounter a projection of the film Elsewhere? (2002); originally produced for Green's Standardized Octagonal Units for Imagined and Existing Systems, a garden folly installed in Kassel during Documenta 11. Elsewhere? provided a poetic meditation on beauty plus pity, from paradisiacal gardens to eccentric architecture, tracing human's aspirations during different times and places as a meditation on what had been imagined and enacted in a world of uncertainty.
In Tracing, Green's ongoing questions of configurations, architectures, and spaces emerged in relation to people and subjectivities that exist in the world: What is inherited and what is made, gained, lost, and transmuted through time, amid change and migrations, amid contestation, repetition and difference, or imagined as utopian, even when violent? What efforts do live creatures exert to begin again? What traces do these leave behind?