Renée Green
Americas: Veritas
September 8–22, 2020

Digital film, color, sound
Running time: 7 minutes
Courtesy the artist, FAM, and Bortolami Gallery


“But this place is also inhabited. By those who weren’t born in France, but who are from places where French is spoken, and by others who were born in France. They are the descendants of Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, South and East Asia, and a contested Europe.”
— Renee Green, voiceover in Secrets (1993, 2006, 2010)


A roving consciousness sees a congealed Americas, in which two Le Corbusier buildings are placed in dialogue with one another: The Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Casa Curutchet, located in La Plata, Argentina. The setting for Renee Green’s 2018 video, Americas: Veritas alternates between these two structures—two icons of modernist architecture, a longstanding throughline in Green’s practice. Shot using a 360 degree camera, the buildings are simultaneously hyper-visible and obscured as the melt into one another signals the universalist grammar of modern architecture using distinct sites in the Americas. The omniscient lens through which we encounter The Carpenter Center and Casa Curutchet warps and distorts the structures. As the camera roams through the interiors and exteriors of these structures—stairwells, courtyards, columns, graffitied walls—Green deploys surveillance technology to disrupt subjective experience and displace the rigidity of modernist architectural space. The experience of watching the disembodied camera mirrors how one might click through the street view feature on Google Maps—an online database that dislodges public space from geographic coordinates and transmits them anywhere. In this way, Green challenges the slippage between progress and modernity as engendered by digital interfaces and, on a more intimate scale, she probes conditions of residency, occupancy and embodiment conjuring Fred Moten’s conceptions of fugitivity and displacement. He writes, “what is at stake is not just the strangeness of displacement’s capacity to attract but also a more general unease regarding the very idea, the assumption of a body.” 


Interrogations of modernist formal and epistemic frameworks are frequent in Green’s practice. Indeed, this work was commissioned by and first premiered in an exhibition at the Carpenter Center during the final year of Green’s residency at the institution. Green has spent time inhabiting other Corbusier buildings such as his concrete housing block, Unite d’habitation, located in Firminy, France. Green reflects on this structure in her video installation Secret and, in particular, calls attention to the ways Le Corbusier’s spaces are transformed by the bodies that haunt them, creating imprints of memory over time. Americas: Veritas takes aim at similar contradictions. What does it mean for Green, a black woman, to exhibit in and inhabit spaces—The Carpenter Center, Casa Curutchet, Corbu buildings, Harvard University, Massachusetts, Argentina—that are molded by divergent historical trajectories of violence and displacement? In his essay on Green’s work, art historian Huey Copeland points out how “discursive economies of contemporary art” often mute Green’s pointed engagement with “the deep structures of the modern world that have shaped the futures and fortunes of subjects on all sides of the color line.” Americas: Veritas does not endeavor to expose or call out the racist underpinnings of architecture, it instead indexes the residue of racial hierarchies, settler-colonial dynamics and migration pathways. Le Corbusier’s brutalist, dominating buildings are hardly static; in Americas: Veritas, the built world is a site of ongoing becoming.


Americas: Veritas was screened in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery from September 8-October 22, 2020. 


Further viewing:


Renée Green, Mise-en-scène: Commemorative Toile, 2020

Chen’s [Remote] presents Americas : Veritas, a screening and conversation with Renée Green

Renée Green: Pacing, Carpenter Center for Visual Arts, Harvard University


Related Events:


Renée Green: Artist Talk