“Relay” refers to signals, attempts to make contact beyond a physical place through time and distance, and the videos in this installation serve that role. “Relay” also includes references to how thought processes are developed and how that can matter to what kind of world we can inhabit.
Education, as a field of institutionalized knowledge production, is a contested, possibly damaging, and potentially potent activity to effect being in the world. The ways in which it can be perceived is affected by the locations and political climate in which it takes place.
Renée Green. Introductory text to her installation Relay (2005)
Artist and ACT Professor Renée Green’s work is currently on display in the exhibition No Title: Relays + Relations. Works by Renée Green and Sol LeWitt at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University, in Middletown, CT. The exhibition brings together works by Sol LeWitt (1928-2007), and Green, a 81’ Wesleyan alumna.
As a student at Wesleyan, Green participated in a seminar taught by John Paoletti, Professor of Art History, Emeritus. The seminar focused on LeWitt’s art collection, and resulted in the exhibition No Title: The Collection of Sol LeWitt (Davison Art Center, Wesleyan, 1981). A catalog was published in conjunction with the exhibition, and it included Green’s first published writings, focusing on the works in the collection by Lawrence Weiner, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, and Adrian Piper.
Curated by Benjamin Chaffee, No Title: Relays + Relations features works across Green’s career: an early drawing from 1981 (Friday 13, 1981), a 1984 gouache from her Metonymies’ series, a video installation (Relay, 2005), sound works, a group of vitrines, and three Space Poems: Space Poem #2 (Laura’s Words) (2011/2020), Every Single Person (LW) (2022), and Space Poem #9 (Today) (2023), the latter specifically produced to address the exhibition and Zilkha Gallery’s context. A dispersed exhibition, excerpts from Renée Green’s Code: Survey (2005) are also on display on the Olin Library’s second-floor library, and on the Center for the Arts’ website.
LeWitt’s work is represented by a 2004 gouache (Horizontal Lines in Color (More or Less), a drawing (Location of a Square, 1975), and three wall drawings: Wall Drawing #869A (first installation, 2019), Wall Drawing #1198 (first installation, 2006), and Wall Drawing #1120 (first installation, 2004); all wall drawings were installed by a LeWitt studio draftsperson in conjunction with current Wesleyan students.
By presenting LeWitt and Green’s work in conjunction, No Title: Relay + Relations highlights a specific relay that took place in 1981, Green’s sustained encounter with LeWitt’s work and collection, while pointing out to the reverberations produced by what was historically designated as conceptual art. Though historic in nature, this way of perceiving art continues to affect the way artworks in this historic lineage of conceptualism are created and operate in the present–even works that appear formally different from those produced during the 1960s and 1970s.
No Title: Relays + Relations might seem to convey and exemplify LeWitt’s twenty first “sentence on conceptual art,” which states: “Perception of new ideas leads to new ideas.”
The exhibition opened on September 26, 2023, and will remain open to the public until December 3, 2023. A film screening followed by a conversation between Benjamin Chaffee and Renée Green will take place on October 28, 2023.
More information: Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University