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Place de l'Etoile - Le Gouffre de Triomphe, 2020
Postcard, 10.5 x 14.85cm

Inspired by the Situationist’s 1955 text, “Proposals for Rationally Improving the City of Paris”, Proposals for Paris invited members of the ABC Cooperative to envisage a public art project for the city, to be presented as part of a series of bound postcards.

With Mishka Henner, John MacLean, Jonathan Lewis, EJ Major, Travis Shaffer, David Schulz, Jonathan Schmidt-Ott, Dawn Kim, Oliver Griffin, Rahel Zoller, Eric Doeringer, Louis Porter, (Mocksim) Micheál O'Connell, Hermann Zschiegner, Duncan Wooldridge, Corinne Vionnet, and Wil van Iersel.

“An October 1955 text from the Lettrist International, Projet d’embellissements rationnels de la ville de Paris*, focused not on the familiar dérive (or drift), but a series of radical tactics of modification for the city. If the derive skips past the structures of power which are at work, the Projetinstead brings us into direct confrontation: the city is an organising and disciplining organism, which elides the hospitalities of mass cohabitation to make machinic sense of the compression at the heart of city life. The scrambling of the departure boards at the city’s train stations—with additional sounds from stations and ports, for good measure—the affixing of dimmer switches to streetlamps, and the opening of parks at night, all encouraged a critical and daring play to take the place of the thrust of capital.

Returning the city to the condition of a site where we must live together, the Lettrists’ proposals, provocative though they might be, nevertheless harbor a certain sense: a city which can re-imagine itself might indeed place play above capital. The writer Bruno Latour has infamously stated that the emergence of a global pandemic has revealed something about our governance: the powerful, who often cite the impossibility of truly radical reform, have shown that rapid transformations really are possible. At the emergence of the pandemic, fear was mixed with optimism that the habitus—civic and shared life—would have to change, and generosity would return. In this vein, the Artists’ Books Cooperative has made its own optimistic and cynical reflections on a city that the art, photography and publishing communities descend upon every year. We have produced our own embellishments, reflected old and proposed new rationalisms.”
— Duncan Wooldridge

* The original appeared in Potlatch no.23 and was translated as “Proposals for Rationally Improving the City of Paris” by Ken Knabb in the Situationist International Anthology

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