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Journey: Shadow Of The American Dream

Artist: Dara Birnbaum

6 channel video and sound

Originally commissioned by: Miller ICA/CMU and exhibited August 20 – December 11, 2022

Fondazione Prada/Milan Osservatorio 13 Apr – 25 Sep 2023

“Throughout her career, Birnbaum has continually produced penetrative interrogations of mass media as technological transformations enabled seismic shifts in the consumption of information and entertainment.”

Journey: Shadow of the American Dream (2022) is a multichannel installation addressing the theme of memory, particularly the late 1940s/1950s postwar cultural landscape of Birnbaum’s childhood. It reflects, in the artist’s words, “a strong desire to review and bring to the viewer an understanding of growing up in this ‘shadow’ of World War II, the period when the American Dream was weaponized by the United States, after emerging ‘victorious’ from this world war.” In this work Birnbaum takes the viewer from 1946, the year of her birth and immediately following the cessation of World War II through 1954, by utilizing digitized 16mm footage taken by her father of the earliest years of her life. Three large black-and-white vinyl photo blowups establish an architectural background for this period’s history. The installation is completed by five video and sound channels presenting selected excerpts from television programs of the late 1940s and 1950s: from Groucho Marx’ talk show to pioneering TV children’s programs, from Westerns to sci-fi space odyssey films.

© 2022 Dara Birnbaum, Miller ICA and Foundazione Prada

Installation photos – Andrea Rosetti