The persistence of the American myth: (re)visions in art and visual culture
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The paper concerns the condition of selected aspects of American mythology in contemporary (from the 1960s till today) art and visual culture. Using specific examples and referring to theorists of American culture such as Sacvan Bercovitch, I argue that, despite varied strategies of appropriation and deconstructive critique of American ideals of freedom, equality and the country’s special role in the world, epitomized in the notion of American exceptionalism, the basic structure of the myth, due to its inextricable connection with American history, still persists as an important platform of action and a frame of reference. I analyze a selection of works referring to the Stars and Stripes, the Western film genre as well as the architecture of the post-9/11 World Trade Center, which both reveal the underlying structure of the myth, denaturalizing it, and a strong, continued attachment to it in the 20th and 21st century United States.
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