Renée Green is an artist, writer, and filmmaker known for her highly layered and formally complex multimedia installations in which ideas, perception, and experience are examined from myriad perspectives. Her exhibitions, videos, and films have been seen throughout the world in museums and art institutions, biennials and festivals. Her video ED/HF (2017) was commissioned as part of the Walker’s Moving Image Commissions series, and her installation Bequest (1991) was featured in the 2016 exhibition Less Than One.
A prolific writer, Green’s writings and scripts have been collected in her books Other Planes of There: Selected Writings (Duke University Press, 2014), Endless Dreams and Time-Based Streams (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 2010), and Shadows and Signals (Fundació Antoni Tàpies, 2000). She is a Professor at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning.
Despite daily media barrages of numbing kinds, as this year winds down thinking back I still found there were moments of different kinds of absorption—solitary and social—that I experienced, and during some days I was able to find nodes of relief, as well as encouragement, even within climates that can feel absurd, cataclysmic, chilling, regressive and noisy, yet fortunately there is no stasis and shifts continue. Despite having watched many films, in writing this list I found myself gravitating toward print and the productions of some seasoned beings. I want to share gratitude for the existence of these diverse creators and their work, as it provided variations of solace, reflection, pleasure, and joy this past year.
THE PERIPHERAL BY WILLIAM GIBSON
Just remembering the state I was in while reading this book incites a reread, as what exists at present is so bizarrely resonant with what was written, once again, before it occurred. An amazing glimpse at many facets of times past and future, yet eerily current. Jackpot-like. Imagine a mirror-world combining London, wealthy Russian inhabitants, what remains of the US as the US South, and performance art, amid new capital techno-saturation?
THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM BY CIXIN LIU
Trisolaris and other worlds crossed with the madness humans make in places and times. Can Trisolarians redeem what’s left of earth? Vivid world-creation, and jolting repetitions and devastations, earthly and cosmic, combined with weird shifts through time. Indications and questions of physics combined with behaviors held my attention. Happy to have the English translation to allow approaching other realms and perceptions. The book is described as the first of the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, hinting at what may be on the horizon. Scary, compelling, and as a read, one to continue.
LOUISE LAWLER: WHY PICTURES NOW
AND THE BOOK RECEPTIONS AT MOMA
As is often the case when I encounter Louise Lawler’s work I smile at the way she shifts any expectations as her philosophy of value and care emerges. What I greatly appreciate are the details, which spur me to reexamine, chuckle, and observe the resonant links.
MARY KELLY AT MITCHELL-INNES & NASH
In the Mitchell-Innes & Nash exhibition The Practical Past and book The Voice Remains, Mary Kelly’s fascinating ongoing life projects materialize further amid forgotten details and ephemera, yet words and stories appear and reappear in material forms. Paradoxes abound. Who would have imagined lint could become the basis of an epic scope, as well as an object of aesthetic complication, combining visually projected “white noise,” and literary meaning? Once again, details in matter greatly and ineffably matter.
TEA FOR THREE AT DANSPACE &
YVONNE RAINER’S BOOK MOVING AND BEING MOVED
The event and this book I think of in conjunction. I appreciate the durations and changes of Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, and Simone Forti and in the Danspace experiment I continued to be surprised at what would come next while watching and listening to these three. Reading Yvonne Rainer’s new book resonates with the performance as its possible to see photos of different years and configurations of dancers and read reflections and current perceptions. What happens in the looking? The performance was a dynamic and poignant reminder of what can still be done with moving bodies and voices, in relation.
CELEBRATING STUART HALL
During this year I was glad to witness the increased public interest in Stuart Hall, as he’s now gone. Finding his traces, even in the title of a MoMA exhibition, Unfinished Conversation, derived from the title of John Akomfrah and Smoking Dogs Films’ impressive 2013 film installation made when Hall was still alive. Finding many books emerging this year has also been gratifying. One such is The Fateful Triangle, edited by Kobena Mercer, including lectures delivered in 1994 at Harvard University.
DEAN BLUNT/HYPE WILLIAMS/BABYFATHER
Music I’ve been listening to repeatedly in the aftermath of Brexit and everything else is the Hype Williams/Dean Blunt/Babyfather, etc. vortex. Blunt’s persistence and changeability give me something to smile about. I enjoy the polyplicity.
FRED MOTEN, BLACK AND BLUR, CONSENT NOT TO BE A SINGLE BEING, VOLUME I
Speaking of consenting not to be a single being, Fred Moten’s Black and Blur: consent not to be a single being resonates with many moods I moved through this year. As always, unusual perceptions formed by language which when spoken, as well as when read, silent or aloud, vibrates, expands and hones into details—sonic, visual, and verbal—perpetually beckoning rereading. I’m glad to learn that there’s more to come as this is only one of a multi-volume set.
Amid the din of now, this first book of a trilogy amplitudinously opened other ways to perceive. Much to return to and locate, as specific objects, recordings, writings, and performances are probed with a philosophical poetics, challenging readers to consent not to be singly anything. I welcome the serial form and will continue reading.
SYLVIA WYNTER: ON BEING HUMAN AS PRAXIS
Much respect to editor Katherine McKittrick for delving into the massive and rich unclassifiable wealth of Sylvia Wynter, live and in text. I’ve been enjoying exploring the thoughts of Wynter and her multi-generational fellow travelers in this collection of writings, that spans a breadth of knowledge, geographies, and languages. Especially during this past year, I continue to ponder the possibility of “being human as praxis,” yet while attempting to enact, it’s a phrase I’ve adopted and share.
NATHANIEL MACKEY, LATE ARCADE
I’m always glad to find another volume of Nathaniel Mackey’s serial work. Even though its taking me time to read its amazing circuitous breadth, the rhythm of its ongoingness and perpetual perceptions and questions of the troupe of sound artist-journey-agents through a span of mysteriously expansive time continue to fascinate.