Americana: Arizona

Wish You Were Here
October 16, 2007 to November 03, 2007

The writer and curator Lucy Lippard once called travel a circular form that "encompasses the experience of being on the threshold, in the throes of passage." No more is this felt or expressed than within the practice of the American road trip. This display focuses on writers who embarked on a journey to see the United States and passed through Arizona. They traveled far and wide across the state with the intent to understand its culture, its place in history, and its story. The display includes texts by the Russian authors Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov, the French writers and philosophers Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Baudrillard, and the American novelist and Beat poet Jack Kerouac. All of them drove across America searching for inspiration, understanding, and, in many ways, themselves.

Looking at a place through its visitors' eyes calls attention to the broader role of travel and mobility in contemporary society. More and more, people are claiming no fixed place, instead traveling extensively both for work and for pleasure. This rootlessness and transience, according to the writer Miwon Kwon, speaks to the modern condition of place, and also to a need to reconnect and attach a memory, history, or story to a place. Thus, a view of Arizona can be presented through a collection of excerpts from texts that express the experience of passing through it, each contributing to a larger story of the state. In this recalling of memories, this positioning of thoughts, perhaps we shall see a new Arizona.

Courtenay Finn

Return to Americana Homepage