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e-flux conversations

A Polite Fiction

Underneath layers of cement and drywall in the Fondation Louis Vuitton is a message in green permanent marker on concrete: “Oubliez la terre. Elle ne vaut pas le coup ... à moins que vous soyez là pour me sauver” (Skip earth. Not worth it ... unless you’re coming to save me).

In A Polite Fiction (2014), Taryn Simon maps, excavates, and records the gestures that became entombed beneath—and within—the building’s surfaces during its five-year construction. Designed by Frank Gehry, the Fondation was built to house the art collection of Bernard Arnault, one of the world’s wealthiest individuals and owner of the largest luxury conglomerate in the world. Simon collects this buried history and examines the latent social, political, and economic forces pushing against power and privilege.

In the part of the project featured in this issue of e-flux journal, Simon investigates the removal or disappearance of objects from the construction site of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, designed by Frank Gehry. Simon entered an invisible marketplace, tracking, purchasing, and photographing objects taken from the site. Items include copper and aluminum cables sold to scrap dealers; cement used by a father to build the walls of his daughter’s bedroom; and an oak sapling that a worker took to Poland, planted, and named after his boss. The custody and movement of these objects transform their value, as they pass from employer to worker and, ultimately, to artist.

Some geographic details and all of the names in A Polite Fiction have been redacted.

Read the full article here.