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More than once I have pulled out my Brazilian passport or ID card, and even after assuring my interlocutor that this is in fact the only citizenship I hold, they will continue to look at me in total disbelief. 


-“What? No way!”/“I don’t believe you”/“But you SOUND American!!!”


This accent I carry is not the only thing. As with most Latine people I have spoken to who were born in a social specific class and time period and raised by a generation of parents who grew up in the height of the American political and cultural influence of Latin America in the post World War II era, to be American, North American, from the United States specifically, was the best thing one could aspire to be. 


The irony of it all, as an American-Accent carrying Brazilian living in Europe during the growth of American right wing populist movements and the eventual election of Donald Trump is that I was often asked and told things as if I were a subject in the conversations being had rather than an object the conversations were about.


-“Did you hear the wall he wants to build to keep those south of the border out of the country will  actually be more like a fence than a wall due to logistics? I can’t believe we elected him…”

-“I am from south of the border. I didn’t elect anyone…”

-“What? No way!”/“I don’t believe you”/“But you SOUND American!!!”


The grass is greener is a project which arises from these parasocial relationships and projected identities. To be thought of as someone from somewhere one is not. To feel like one belongs to a cultural identity because one has been told from a young age that that is the culture that’s cool. To know that no matter how perfectly Californian the vocal fry or how many former US presidents I can remember from history class, I will never actually be from there. It walks a line of a childhood love constructed by Hollywood films and songs, from stories of my mother’s year abroad in Montana, from begging mom and dad to take me to Disneyland… and also of deep personal and political frustrations towards these feelings. As though to even want these things feels like a betrayal to the fact that my parents had to protest a military dictatorship which was backed by the CIA.

The works in the series function like a game of identity telephone.


Borrowing from Hollywood films, Saturday morning cartoons, Mark Twain, Pop music, reality TV, travel anecdotes, I construct the American Suburban landscape that people automatically believe I am from when they hear me speak English.


It is a work of fiction and farce and storytelling; a satirical set like utopia created in other’s heads (and my own). And it is real until it is interrupted by the reality that it is made up. 


I am told that in America most people don’t lock their doors, and that their homes have flimsy white picket fences you could easily knock down or jump over. But I saw it in a movie and they are so cute! And in a literature class I read Mark Twain and how in the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom convinces his friends to paint the fence for him because painting the fence becomes an allegory for labor. It is what I am told. 


So on the front of the gallery space I build a fence and I tell people to paint it for me and I’ve never lived in a house with a white picket fence but once you enter the gallery and have to make your way around it to see the space, well, now I do. 


I am told American Lawns are greener than green all year round and that they have home owners associations which fine you if you do not maintain your lawn. And I am told of how these home owners associations red lined entire neighborhoods before the civil rights movement and that on their perfectly similar white homes on their perfectly similar lawns they have perfectly similar dogs and perfectly similar passive aggressive signs telling you to keep off the grass. It is what I am told. 


So as you enter the gallery you encounter these installations of things I am told exist. Things I am told I had. Things I am told I want. 


In a separate exhibition space, past the “yard” and “into the house” so to say, you find two tile installations. These ceramic tiles are covered with illustrations of fake brands which are utilized in Hollywood movies and series. The fake brands, simulations of real ones are the design work of a prop warehouse in L.A. and were created to serve as “brand displacement”. To avoid lawsuits or having to go through expensive brand placement processes whenever a character is eating… potato chips for example, production companies can purchase these specific bundles. So now your character isn’t eating Lay’s Potato Chips, they are eating Let’s Potato Chips. The designs are such subtle adulterations of the originals that they go unnoticed until they are pointed out, after which it becomes impossible to not notice how unlike the true versions of themselves they are, how these objects which are designed to go unnoticed become glaringly conspicuous once you know they are “fake”. It is a breaking of the fourth wall every time you spot one and suddenly you remember that the scene you’re watching is in fact a scene and that the people are actors and the home is just a set. And much like finding out that my accent isn’t actually American, you are confronted with the reality that this story you’re seeing isn’t real either. 


I am told by those who have been told and so I tell you, but my accent is American so you believe the farce is from a trustworthy source. 


Larissa Barddal Fantini


Paris, 2017


The grass is greener

artist's statement:

It is strange to be thought of by others as being from somewhere you aren’t from. Due to an upbringing which found me studying in countries far from my own Brazil, and an education given in international schools which leaned heavily on a US centric curriculum, I find myself often speaking in an accent which should not be mine and caring about politics in which I have no constitutional say in. 


When I speak, to others’ ears I am an American and it takes a lot of effort to convince them that my accent is merely a colonized aspect of my Latin identity which I truly cannot seem to shake. Europeans, and even North Americans, rarely believe me when I tell them I am not from the USA, have never lived there (except for a five week period when I received a summer scholarship to attend SCAD), and have only ever visited on a few family vacations to NYC or DisneyWorld (or other classic brazilian-middle-class-dream-vacations). 


Conversations often go like this: 

-“Where are you from?”


-“Oh, but you were raised in the US?”

-“Nope, born in Brazil, raised between Asia and South America”

-“Oh, but your parents are American?”

-“Nope. 100% Brazilian” (sometimes i will follow this response with a quip about colonialism anticipating their follow up questions as to why I am white, or with a nod to how my parents are “100% Brazilian just as much as all other great grandchildren of European immigrants are”)



acrylic on wood, keys, keychain, 25x15cm, 2019

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