Making Mistakes Is Human, L’erreur Est Humaine
A solo show by Renen

Making Mistakes Is Human, L’erreur Est Humaine

To become acquainted with Renen’s work is to try on one of the many hats they have worn throughout the years. As a performer, director, video maker, visual artist, and author, their multi-disciplinary practice is reflected in their numerous collaborations, experiments, and individual work.

Each of their artistic interventions is a comprehensive analysis of the location, institution, and invitation, where only a few elements are present and simultaneously everything is exposed. Each time, the words’ weight, meaning, and potential are meticulously selected, scrutinized, and explored to be later presented in minimalist, striking forms. If language is a weapon, Renen has made it a specialty – even more than a discipline.

Playing at the entrance to the exhibition, the sound piece Overture exists only through language and the emotions it evokes. It reveals the meta-structures of working toward an exhibition, and thus relates to Renen’s ongoing concern with the mechanism of art-making. Two different narratives are being simultaneously whispered from both sides of the entrance: while one voice recounts the preparation for an exhibition as exciting, joyful, and self-fulfilling, the other thoroughly describes the fear, overload, and terror of the very same process. The sound piece exposes the very existence of the exhibition and welcomes the audience into the space with this knowledge in mind.

A sort of a bar hosts a hundred copies of Renen’s recent essay, I cannot stop worrying about the workings of the art market. This essay addresses the relationship between art schools and the art world nowadays while posing the question: where can one locate the existence of the art world inside education? Through examples, relevant literature, and personal experience, Renen reveals through 36 pages the effects of the «inseparable art school» on students, teachers, value systems, and institutions alike.

Building upon the topic of the market, in A Bearer of Value; An object of Utility, the artist collected and cut out snippets from Hollywood films where only the word «Money» is being said. Currently, the video includes 705 carefully chosen excerpts that play countless variations of the word in a seven-minute loop. What is at stake is the «performance of money», seen through the Hollywood gaze in the depiction of situations and characters, pronunciation, and the intoxicating effect of its repetition. In this work, Renen takes a deep look into the performance of what is perhaps the most ingrained object within value production – money itself.

In the video A silent piece, nothing is truly silent. Two empty chairs are in a relentless dialogue. They handle philosophical questions and linguistic matters on the same level that they recall day-to-day memories and images of spaces. The text – absurd, poetic, and theatrical – gradually gives rise to the core of the work: the production of images. The chairs aim to decipher the difference between painting and photography while their own image is produced and reproduced by the action of light. Memory, visual descriptions, sense-making, and the figure of the chairs themselves are slowly transformed until they are dismantled.

Reflecting on art and art-making processes is no stranger in Renen’s work. Nowadays, they are preoccupied with the meaning and implications of the term contemporary art for the creation of new works. The first of this research, made especially for this exhibition, is the sound installation Still Alive. Stemming from the logic that all art must have been once contemporary since it was of its own time, limiting «contemporary art» to that made from the 1980s seemed to Renen rather unreasonable. In the installation, a selection of vessels depicted in still life paintings is singing «Staying Alive» by the Bee Gees in acapella. Here again, Renen plays with words’ meanings, as nature morte objects are crying out «Staying Alive!» in memory of their past contemporaneity.

To enter the installation space Making Mistakes Is Human, L’erreur Est Humaine is to enter a complete black box rather than an empty white cube. It is to stomp impatiently at the reception desk, only to be overwhelmed at the exit. It is to empty one’s mind, absorb the countless pirouettes, and sense what sense they make. The French title of the exhibition invites us to review it through double spectra. Not only is making mistakes human, but the mistake itself might be human beings who came up with the structures and apparatuses of value and meaning that are represented in the show. Renen’s practice continuously investigates this question – always with dexterity and never without humor.

From 1 to 15 December 2022
Thanks to: Melissa Steenman, Maarten van der Heijden, Antoine Weil, Samuel Cardoso, Sophie Conus, Linn Henz, Ida Junior, Miguel Da Silva, and Laura Reynard for their support in the production of the exhibition. To my studio mates in Bremen for their support during the process, and to Sylvain Gelewski for the engagement and commitment in realizing it.
Singers in Still Alive: Oded Essner, Tal Ganor, Raúl Noriega, Liesl Lindeque, Berna Ayzit, and Renen Itzhaki.
Photos: Danny Leal
Translation: Anya Lindup
With the support of the Fonds cantonal d’art contemporain, DCS, Genève.

Renen (*1988) is an artist working in the realms of contemporary dance, installation, video, and sound. Their artistic language puts theatricality at the core: in objects, institutions, by use of text, performance, and in the interaction with audiences. They have a rich background in working with other artists as a performer (for Jeremy Shaw, Boris Nikitin, Dafna Maimon, Julian Weber, and Berlin-based choreographers), dramaturge (for Boudry/Lorenz, Niels Weijier) and choreographer.
In their solo-work, Renen closely examines the processes of art-making and brings them to the fore. From reflections on institutions, to questions related to value, discourse, legacies, and the relationship between art and the market.
They hold a BA in Dance, Context and Choreography from Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz at UdK Berlin, and an MFA in Visual Arts from HEAD–Geneva. Currently, they are based in Geneva, Berlin, and Bremen, where they were nominated as a Meisterschüler to the filmmaker Wendelien van Oldenborgh.