Renée Green

Renée Green talks about Other Planes of There: Selected Writings

Left: Cover of Renée Green's Other Planes of There: Selected Writings (2014). Right: View of “Renée Green: Endless Dreams and Time-Based Streams,” 2010, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

The artist Renée Green is well known for working with a wide array of media, which often converge in layered installations. Here, Green shares “doubly transmuted” pieces from the introductory essay in her new book Other Planes of There: Selected Writings (2014), which surveys her writings between 1981 and 2010 and was published this month by Duke University Press.

AS A PRELUDE TO OTHER PLANES OF THERE, I offer these recently written and doubly transmuted excerpts from the book as one way of telling a story, titled, for example, as “Other Planes, Different Phases, My Geometry, Times, Movements: Becomings Ongoing.”

When I look at the many shelves of books in my library and focus on the section of books and catalogues in which my work resides, the titles and covers all look interesting in their own way, yet I continue to search. I don’t find what I’m looking for, it hasn’t been made, yet I can imagine something other than what I’m finding. I return to the manuscript of this book you now read. I think about the vast breadth and varying depths of the events and encounters throughout my life as an artist and as a writer as I select what to give you at this time. I don’t think of this as the definitive book of my work, as I’m still alive, writing and working, “wondering as I wander,” yet there are some combinations and words I’d like you to be able to read, which I haven’t yet read elsewhere. For that reason I feel compelled to give you these words.

A note to myself: “A certain boredom with ‘artist’s books’ and ‘artist’s writings.’ What about writing? What about one’s perspective as it is informed by living and thinking and feeling and enacting? In this case, to enact living and thinking and feeling as an artist. Can I think of examples? And beyond. Ongoing becomings. Limiting classifications challenged. More paradoxes of democracy. Letters of all kinds.”

When reading particularly about art, sometimes it seems that the twentieth century ended in the 1960s. In terms of any hopes and dreams. Afterward everything that followed became post- or neo-. Strange to be born in and grow up in a time that appears to be an extension of something perceived to have been authentic.

If one carefully reads what was published during the years even from one’s birth to the present, what can be discovered can astonish, as well as satisfy nagging curiosity, temporarily. The ah-ha! effect. Speculative puzzle parts click into place, for a moment.

The story I have to tell is an artist’s story. This becomes the story of many people through time. It is a growing seed. There remain things to know and to acknowledge that are still difficult to calmly discuss, as Jimmie Durham says; or difficult to more broadly recognize, such as a claim to multiple histories and a willingness to accept the range of participants in shaping these, despite the immensity of words circulating and despite the passages of time.

Other Planes of There contains writings that provide intimations to my works, written works that include essays, fiction, film, and audio scripts, and those that exceed a category, as well as writings that approach the works of others. The book is divided into five sections: Genealogies, Circuits of Exchange, Encounters, Positions, and Operations. Each section contains writings that span stretches of time and locations, yet share a relation. This is not a memoir meant to describe a life, but is rather a selection of primarily published writings, written in different parts of the world at different times during my life as an artist between the years 1981 and 2010, in relation to different works—considered in an expansive sense of the word—made by myself or made by others.