Asnières (2007)

2007, wall drawings in black acrylic paint, covering a surface of app. 100 m2
Master degree exhibition at Konstfack, the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm

Frontal view, And in my Heart there is… (Asnières), Galleri Konstfack, 2007. Photo: Léonie Young

For my (solo) degree exhibition at Konstfack, just after six months as an exchange student in Paris, I had researched and collected greetings from a dog cemetery in Paris: Cimetière des Chiens d’Asnières. The cemetery was founded in Asnières–sur–Seine, a suburb of Paris, in 1899, right after the implementation of a law stating that domestic animals, too, could be buried (instead of just thrown away). The cemetery is stated to be one the first of its kind, and was founded by Marguerite Durand and Georges Harmois, through an association formed in May, 1899.

To me, and probably to other visitors, the site provokes an ambivalent experience. Full of hundreds of tombs – some with chapels erected on top of them – with images and greetings to loved and diseased domestic animals, the site is obviously both touching and heartwarming. Simultaneously, to visit Asnières, and several other Parisian suburbs, is also a disconcerting experience. Poverty and inequality, on many levels of society, shines through and I cannot help but compare the domestic animals’ situation to those of many humans. 
This paradox intrigued me, and encouraged me to transform and displace these namnes and greetings into a different (visual and spatial) format, the white cube of the gallery. Through this displacement, and a contemporary typeface, I wanted to open these text messages up for a new reading, give them a form of ”rebirth”. By painting an over-sized pocket watch on the wall, the viewer is reminded of the transitoriness of existence, connected with the orginal site of these texts.

Later the same year the piece was shown in the exhibition In search of the lost self – 15 art students at Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm. Download and read the catalogue text by Camilla Larsson (EN, 2007)

Detail of the installation, 2007. Photo: Léonie Young