Americana: Minnesota

You Are Here
October 13, 2009 to October 31, 2009

Minnesota, also known as the "Bread and Butter State", is home to the nation's largest enclosed shopping mall. Opened in 1992, the Mall of America (MOA) located in Bloomington, covers approximately 4.2 million square feet. A national and international tourist destination, more people visit MOA annually than Disney World, the Grand Canyon, and Graceland combined. As its name suggests, this "National Mall" is a large-scale demonstration of American consumer desires.

With direct metro access, MOA resembles a walled city with an indoor amusement park, a liberal arts high school, a post office, a police substation, a church, a wedding chapel and even a university. These facilities support the 'public nature' of MOA, as does the fact that the local government has been financing the development of the mall since its founding. One would think, therefore, public spaces in MOA would be governed by the same
legislation that applies to any city street. But in a 1999 court case, the State of Minnesota vs. Wicklund, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that MOA visitors are not protected under their First Amendment right to free speech or assembly. A reality that becomes apparent in light of Senator Ron Paul's ability to purchase ad space at MOA in order to run a 2008 advertisement campaign. Here the right to voice one's opinion is often reserved for those who can afford to have one.

In this exhibition, a lexicon of MOA has been created in the form of a mall directory to re-present a selection of stores and attractions, becoming a visual essay on the mall's depiction of America through the lens of consumer culture. The directory, as a formal and conceptual device, orients viewers to lesser-known facts that provide a more revealing composite of MOA's underlying contradictions, some of which are particular to this mall while others gesture toward unresolved issues within the land of liberty.

Curated by Kristin Korolowicz

Directory designed by Jennifer Hennesy

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