Magazine article Artforum International

Larissa Fassler: SEPTEMBER

Magazine article Artforum International

Larissa Fassler: SEPTEMBER

Article excerpt

Produced in the wake of Nicolas Sarkozy's scandalous move in July 2010 to "clean up" France by closing down Roma camps and orchestrating large-scale deportations, Larissa Fassler's recent exhibition explored inequities in Parisian life by asking how and how freely individuals may navigate public spaces, and investigating the politics of failed urban planning. Sarkozy's policy was evidence, even before the mass killings in Norway this summer, that Europe is again burdened with xenophobia-tinged questions of national identity. With drawings and sculptures, Fassler foregrounded perspectives on the French capital that darkened its legend as the City of Light, in the process giving form to narratives that challenge the postcard-ready image officials prefer to promote.

The Berlin-based Canadian arrist's on-site study of the Place de la Concorde provoked the most layered works in the show. The large-scale drawing Place de la Concorde. I (from a series of three, all works 2011) traced individual paths around and across this largest of the city's squares in colored ink (mainly pink), mapping a mesmerizing web of human activity. Briefly annotated field notes, among them, scam. woman pretending to drop ring!, police pull over dark blue hatchback, and roma Girl kunning from police (there were repeated references to Roma and police) countered the bland imaginings of exclusionary politics. At the same time, Fassler charted her own presence here via an invented scale measured by her footsteps, which highlighted her experiential process. A pair of drawings, Place de I'Europe I and 11, replaced the focus on individuals with an analysis of the array of signs (political posters and stickers, personal ads, graffiti, traffic signs) crowding its visual field. While similar in approach to her earlier street-based projects in London and Berlin, Fassler's Paris observations evidenced troubling racist undercurrents. …

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