Andrea Fisher

Gallery Marlene Eleini

Over the last two years, Andrea Fisher has developed a distinctive format for her wall installations, by combining Minimalist-type sculptures, always identifiable as reminiscent of, say, a “Serra” or a “Judd,” with a projected image. Past installations have focused on Minimalist practice as the consequent and final manifestation of Modernism proper, and have included images of isolated female victims of war. The subjects’ poses revealed, in their finality both as event and as image, the intimate and deeply troubling connections between social and sexual violence and the fascination with visual staging and ordering.

In her installation here, Signs I, 1989, the images present scenes of violent death disturbingly charged with eroticism. Thus specularizing the unspoken and disavowed other, these projections attempt to reintroduce the domain of sexual and social politics to Modernist discourse. Fisher extends her inquiry to what may be called the post-Modern legacy of Minimalism. A still from the Nagima Oshima film Il est mort après la guerre (He died after the war, 1971) is projected onto a gallery wall, which supports the smooth black and yellow Formica surfaces of a geometric sculpture that refers to the work of Joel Shapiro. The film still, bathed in an acid-yellow, shows a Japanese couple strangling each other in the act of lovemaking. By momentarily suspending the various dichotomies—active/passive, dominating/subordinate, sadistic/masochistic—which sustain and characterize conventional representations of the erotics of violence, the work also suggests a displacement of the conceptual parameters that govern the reading of established formal vocabularies. The black and yellow object onto which the still is projected recalls the hazard sign, which announces and warns of danger without eliminating it. This analogy is fitting for the overall conception of this piece. Beautifully staged, the installation problematizes the pleasures it offers, while continuously implicating the viewer in the fascination and seduction of the spectacle.

Fisher remains deeply skeptical of the anti-authoritarian claims of Minimalism and their reworking as the forms of a “new humanism,” which has become part of the pluralist post-Modern scene. Inhabiting and playing with the codes of formalist sculpture, her work aims at displacing the binary concepts underpinning these codes. The success of the installation lies in its ability to avoid a simple inversion of terms and, instead, to map the intricate and multiple relations that inscribe the work in the political economy of the sexual.

Desa Philippi