Exhibition: 22 January – 21 April 2009
'Endless Dreams and Water Between' is a project by the artist Renée Green, commissioned by the National Maritime Museum. The material cultures of maritime history are intertwined with desires and dreams that are carried across the oceans through experience, representation, misrepresentation and projections of past and present.
This exhibition pays attention to the varied ways cultures perceive and conceive of the world. These understandings and perceptions are developed through struggles for happiness, the imaginary, systems for comprehension and dreams, as well as by the pursuit of these very desires. Renée Green has consistently returned to ideas of time and the sea throughout her artistic practice. 'Endless Dreams and Water Between' brings poetics to the ways that islands shape our understanding of our place in the world by taking us on a journey through the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The exhibition opens with three films meditating on what has been imagined and enacted in a world of uncertainty. Each investigates operations of chance, distance, tenuous connection and attempts to imagine ideal forms of existence. Alongside these, 'Endless Dreams and Water Between' draws together four film projections, sound works, banners, diagrams and drawings.
These varied elements include traces of several fictional characters’ reflections upon, and engagement with, islands – sites that are filled with endless dreams. The islands, which are the focus here, are Manhattan, Majorca, islands of the San Francisco Bay, the northern California Pacific rim and San Francisco itself. California was thought to be an island by Westerners for centuries – a misperception based both on its climate and on desires for preferable futures that became projected on to this imagined island state.
Long histories encompassing geological time and the many migrations of life over many bodies of water emerge throughout 'Endless Dreams and Water Between' as Renée Green’s characters follow their various networks of interest, instigated by curiosity and physical encounters in the island locations they inhabit. Every island imagines itself central.
Each of the simultaneously insular and paradoxically cosmopolitan locations presented in 'Endless Dreams and Water Between' perceive of themselves in this way. Renée Green is fascinated by the ways that historical and fictional documents have the ability to reveal contrary versions of dreams and their trajectories amidst surrounding water. Here various stories emerge, overlap and eventually converge.
Some of these stories relate water and islands to time and history in order to frame human actions. Other narratives look to the division of the world into continents as a question rather than an assertion, in the process reconsidering geographical concepts that are often taken for granted.
From the Greeks to the present, generations of Westerners have been fascinated by islands. Over time, Europeans’ perceptions and concerns for islands have shifted from seeing them as imaginary spaces to locations of material and oceanic control – all the while operating as contested places of perceived potential and escape, as tabula rasae are also part of the Western imagination. 'Endless Dreams and Water Between' intertwines these stories of relationships to water and islands with fictional accounts of contemporary island inhabitants and voyagers. Crossing the Mediterranean Sea, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, as well as the Hudson River, San Francisco Bay and the waters of the Balearic Islands, these journeys point to the assumptions, understandings and creation of island-ideas and idea-islands.
About the artist
Renée Green was born in 1959 in Cleveland, OH and lives and works in San Francisco and New York. Green’s exhibitions, videos and films have been seen throughout the world in museums, biennales and festivals.
About New Visions
New Visions is the contemporary art programme of the National Maritime Museum. Working with British and international artists, New Visions encourages and broadens access to the arts and deepens the National Maritime Museum’s engagement with its core exploration of the sea, stars and time and the significance of Greenwich as a World Heritage Site. The Museum is a rich source of inspiration to artists, from the depths of its collections to its magnificent listed buildings. In September 2009 the New Visions programme will commission a project with the artist Jeremy Millar.
The Curator of Contemporary Art is Lisa Le Feuvre.
For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
New Visions is funded by the Arts Council.http://london.usembassy.gov/