Branding the Dream: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and the Meanings of America

Part of Fictive Witness – A Series of Lecture-Performances

February 13, 2018


30 Irving Place

<i>Save the Presidents</i>, Alex Strada and Tali Keren, still, 2017
Save the Presidents, Alex Strada and Tali Keren, still, 2017

Fictive Witness is a year-long series of lecture-performances in conjunction with the Agency for Legal Imagination at Ludlow 38. Artist collaborators Alex Strada and Tali Keren invite legal scholars and art historians to respond to their film Save the Presidents (2017). The film centers on monumental statues of former American presidents that are eroding in a field in rural Virginia. Each performance will consist of a different “interpreter” who will provide a distinct narration that speaks to the themes which underlie the film, ranging from the problematic of monuments and political mythologies, to law, race, and gender in this current political moment.

Kendall Thomas will open the series on Tuesday, February 13, 7pm. His lecture-performance centers on US political culture, cultural politics, and the cultural and political powers of the “imaginary” American presidency. Taking the evocative visual landscape of Strada and Keren’s film as its inspiration, Branding the Dream: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and the Meanings of America uses words, music, and an eclectic range of references (from the 18th century German art historian and archeologist Johann Joachim Winckelmann to pop superstar Beyoncé) to stage an encounter between two presidencies and between two conflicting — and convergent — visions of the American Dream.

With the kind support of the Artis Grant Program

The event is organized by The Agency for Legal Imagination operating throughout 2018 at MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38.