German artist Julian Rosefeldt’s multichannel film installation, American Night (2009), is a satirical and engaging critique of the mythology of the American West as disseminated through the Western film genre. The installation consists of five projection screens arranged in a semicircle and presents a complex assemblage of motifs—such as the landscape, the Western town, the saloon, the campfire, and the log cabin with the waiting woman—accompanied by dialogue from classic Westerns and contemporary culture and politics, including from George W. Bush and Barack Obama in a staged interaction. Both employing and exposing the tropes of the genre, Rosefeldt’s installation not only offers a shrewd commentary on how the narrative of the frontier pervades American culture but also draws parallels between the machismo of Western gunslingers and American foreign policy.
This exhibition is curated by Richard James Krueger, associate professor of art in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.
Support for the exhibition is provided by the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and College of Art, and members of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
Julian Rosefeldt, American Night, 2009. Five-channel film installation, 40:42 min. (looped). Courtesy of Barbara Gross Galerie Munich, ARNDT Berlin / Singapore, and the artist.