Take It or Leave It: Bound To Appear

Renée Green. Commemorative Toile, 1992
ACT at MIT

“The story begins in a ramshackle antiques shack in upstate New York. Or perhaps it goes back even farther, to childhood and memories of French provincial furniture displays in department stores. At any rate I found a bolt of toile fabric with depictions of pastoral scenes from a past Europe, which I took with me to France as a kind of talisman.”

Renée Green. “Collecting Well Is the Best Revenge.” In: Certain Miscellanies: Some Documents, pp. 131-139.

Renée Green’s 1992 Commemorative Toile is on view in Los Angeles at the Hammer Museum in Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology, “the first large-scale exhibition to focus on the intersection of two vitally important genres of contemporary art: appropriation and institutional critique.”

Produced at the Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia after Green’s research at and exhibition in the Ateliers Internationaux at the Frac des Pays de la Loire in Clisson and Nantes, Mise-en-Scène: Commemorative Toile combines traditional bucolic scenes typical of 18th century upholstery fabric with those collected from other 18th century sources. Among the scenes selected by the artist that the observer can encounter are a nun in a garden, the signing of the Code Noire, and the hanging of French officers by the Haitian general Dessalines.

Mise-en-Scène: Commemorative Toile is the object of a detailed study in art historian Huey Copeland’s recent book, Bound To Appear, published by the University of Chicago Press. In his chapter “Renée Green’s Diasporic Imagination” Copeland reveals the sources of Green’s toile and situates the work in relation with Green’s overall artistic output, but also in relation to works by Fred Wilson, Glenn Ligon, and Lorna Simpson. Bound to Appear’s argument is that these artists’ early work “reframes strategies of representation and rethinks how blackness might be imagined and felt long after the end of the ‘peculiar institution.’ ”

An extensive survey exhibition, Take It or Leave It includes works and installations from thirty-six American artists, among them Barbara Kruger, Mary Kelly, Jimmie Durham, Judith Barry, Louise Lawler, Christopher Williams, Mike Kelley, Sherri Levine, Stephen Prina, and Félix Gonzalez-Torres, and it will remain on view until May 18th 2014.

Further information:

Take It or Leave It

Bound To Appear