1996: Renée Green, Flow. Cinema and post cards

Renée Green image
Renée Green, Flow, 1996. Photographe inconnu·e.

For her very first exhibition in Switzerland, the American artist Renée Green created an in-situ multimedia installation for Friart, working with the notion of “crossed references”. She defined the term as ways of achieving knowledge and understanding with reference to a place, a person or a thing, by creating links with that which seems familiar to us – particularly with an unknown place.

Visiting Switzerland for the first time, she tried to connect with the country in different ways through the exhibition, taking as her starting point subjective associative links or links generated by technology. For example, she carried out an internet search on Switzerland to inventory the information available for American tourists.The artist exhibited the evidence of this research process in a network of open ideas. On the first floor her exhibition was made up of several sections, partitioned by coloured walls and designed as everyday spaces. For example, the public could sit on cushions and use the various media exhibited (videos, photos, sound, words etc.) to create their own idea associations. On the second floor, a cinema was set up in one room, complete with a projector and theatre seats. A film screening took place every Thursday evening during the exhibition. The films were to a large extent chosen for their link to Switzerland, whether in terms of their filming or their subject matter and attempted to disrupt the image of Swiss neutrality.

The artist thus conceived of a sort of exchange of cultural material, creating a link between Switzerland and the United States. The dialogue also took the form of post cards that Renée Green sent to Michel Ritter almost every day over the three weeks prior to her arrival in Switzerland.

Renée Green image
Echanges de cartes postales entre Renée Green et Michel Ritter

By collecting different elements, Green carried out a mapping of the place and created a sort of archaeology of Fribourg and Swiss culture, in spite of what was a sometimes idealised conception, including, for example, picturesque landscapes. The exhibition entitled Flow went beyond the mere solitary export of an international artist and created a veritable exchange between Green and the art centre. Michel Ritter had thus invited an artist who was at the crossroads of several contemporary artistic theories of the 1990s.

Text written in collaboration with Hélène Wichser, presented as part of the exhibition Friart est né du vide. L’esprit d’une Kunsthalle, MAHF Museoscope, 27.08 – 17.10.2021.

Translation: Jack Sims