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Interview: Kirsten Leenaars: (Re)Housing the American Dream

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

Kirsten Leenaars: (Re)Housing the American Dream September 6 – October 12, 2018 York College Galleries Opening Reception/Artist Q&A: Thursday, September 6, 5:00 – 7:00PM Lecture: Wednesday, October 10, 5:30PM, DeMeester Recital Hall

Kirsten Leenaars is an experimental documentary maker and engages with individuals and communities to create participatory video and performance work. Her work oscillates between fiction and documentation, reinterprets personal stories and reimagines everyday realities through staging, improvisation, and iteration. Leenaars examines the nature of our constructed realities—the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we identify with—and explores the way we relate to others. In her work, she aims to bring to light a shared humanity, often through humor and play.

This exhibition shows the collection of drawings, video and text work that make up (Re)Housing the American Dream; a cumulative documentary project (2015-ongoing) that explores the role of film as political action. This experimental multi-year documentary project follows a group of American and refugee youths in Milwaukee, growing up in the time of Trump. Through the collective making of video and text based work the construct of the American Dream is explored. The production period is structured as an annual summer camp in which the works are developed through collaborative processes with the participants. The produced work reflects on current socio-political issues, their lived experiences, individual perspectives and their collective imagination. The annual works cumulatively inform each other and tell the story of a resilient, diverse, opinioned group of youngsters living in divisive times.


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