Renée Green: Partially Buried
Through art, film and writing, Renée Green (b. 1959, Cleveland) explores the role of memory and perception in the creation of personal and collective histories. Partially Buried (1996) and Partially Buried Continued (1997) respond to the complex history of artist Robert Smithson’s work Partially Buried Woodshed (1970), which unfolded nearby on the campus of Kent State University. Smithson made this work during a residency at the university in January 1970. With the help of students, he buried one side of an old woodshed with twenty truckloads of earth. Interested in the role of time and organic processes in art, Smithson anticipated the work’s progressive decay. The natural life of the work, however, was interrupted: on May 4, 1970 four students were killed and nine wounded by National Guardsman during a Vietnam War protest; soon after, the words ‘MAY 4 KENT 70’ were painted onto Partially Buried Woodshed and the work became a memorial to the tragic event. As plans for preserving the work were debated, the woodshed continued to fall apart and in 1984 the site was anonymously cleared. The only record of the work is a single photograph.
Green uses the medium of film, with its capacity to capture time and produce multiple image juxtapositions—in a manner that conjures the operation of memory—to explore not only the history itself Partially Buried Woodshed, but also the processes by which we strive to interpret the past. Partially Buried (1996) and Partially Buried Continued (1997) are central components of an expansive multimedia installation Partially Buried in Three Parts (1996-97).
Partially Buried, 1996
Video, color, sound; 20:00 min.
Partially Buried Continued, 1997
Video, color, sound; 36:00 min.
Courtesy of Renée Green and Video Data Bank, www.vdb.org, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.