The 45th President of the United States has just been sworn into office and within days, he and his administration have begun their attempts to rewrite America. Though many thought that his presidency was improbable, the interests he fanned during his run for office — to (re-)define “American” values and identity by birth, race, gender, religion, class, geography, and social values — are contextual markers that are as apparently contemporary as they are historically regressive. Even the varied and extreme positions taken by presidential contenders during the primary and the national elections each aimed to categorically define “American” today, making it clear that no individuals can take the concept for granted. While much social progress has been made to more accurately represent the people of America, many have felt that their sense of cultural belonging was being eroded in the wake of domestic and global change until, they feel, now, just as many others are beginning to have their rights denied. This is an anachronistic social turn.

THE AMERICAN. invites viewers to explore how “American” is contextually defined and the ideas that fuel these contexts. This work grew out of an ongoing conversation I have with Martin Waldmier, a London-based Swiss curator, who originally pointed me to the newspaper archive at the Library of Congress. We began this conversation in the summer of 2016 and we are interested in the story these historic newspapers could tell about America during the period of westward expansion and the Civil War. Though we were both concerned about the rising global trend of nationalism after Brexit, we did not guess at the way the U.S. presidential elections would unfold. In this site-specific exhibition for Roman Susan Foundation in January 2017, I employ a now defunct Washington D.C. newspaper from 1857 to research what “American” means in hindsight and from our contemporary positions.

An excerpt of the video can be viewed at:

 40 minute single channel video,    window film. 
 Diptych of pigment inkjet prints,    36 x 48 in. 
 The video that displays the text in   reverse is mirrored in the window.