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cologne reviews
by Rosanne Altstatt

renee green

at galerie christian nagel, cologne



The interpretation of information across the void of time and space are key elements in Renee Green's installation at Galerie Christian Nagel in Cologne, titled Uebertragen / Transfer and comprising a look back at the notorious events at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, in 1970. The question of what is remembered or discarded, what is understood or misunderstood across geographic and cultural borders is reinforced by the fact that the show is running simultaneously with Green's parallel exhibition at Pat Hearn Gallery in New York.

Decked out in colors no one would be caught dead wearing in the `80s, the Cologne show has the retro-'70s esthetic found in many a "hip" gallery today. What makes it different and appealing in the `90s? Zeitgeist and subtle details--photos of monuments to the four students shot at Kent State during a war protest have a contemporary quality, maps of the region around Lake Erie are pinned on a wall painted in bright orange. The orange is `70s, but its combination with the maps and wall is not.

Central to the exhibition are videos that can be watched while sitting on pea-green throw pillows. One videotape presents a re-assesment of the the past in the form of testimonials to "the way it was" in Ohio. Super-8 footage from a Germany and U.S. that no longer exists is played on an adjacent monitor. Another video shows interviews with people born in Germany and living in the states. While Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's Ohio plays in the background, the viewer can watch the film Underground or see a re-thinking of Robert Smithson's Partially Buried Woodshed. The videos, photos and music construct a feeling for the time when Green was a child, but she can only put the pieces together subjectively. The end result is an exhibition working on many levels, encompassing a dwindling sense of time and location in an era when the masses receive "direct" information about the past and the present from around the globe, about personal history, and the capacity of memory.


ROSANNE ALTSTATT is a critic and curator working in Cologne.

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