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(Re)Housing the American Dream:

A Message from the Future, 2017

(Re)Housing the American Dream: A Message from the Future, 2017, video stills

(Re)Housing the American Dream is an ongoing community-based performative documentary project directed by Artist-Filmmaker Kirsten Leenaars (Dutch b). Leenaars creates work by engaging specific communities in a participatory framework that, often through humor and play, prompts participants to consider their own points of connection and sense of shared humanity. Influenced by philosopher Hannah Arendt’s concept of “the space of appearance,” which emerges when multiple actors with different positions and perspective relate to one another through speech and action, Leenaars’ explores the role of film in capturing the plurality and unpredictability that, according to Arendt, produces political action.


Initiated in 2015, (Re)Housing the American Dream has continuously and simultaneously existed inside and outside of the museum’s walls. Each year, the same group of refugee and American-born children—introduced by Leenaars during her artist residencies at the Milwaukee Academy of Chinese Language International Newcomer Center and Highland Community School—have collaboratively developed a theme to explore. An annual summer camp, devised by Leenaars and informed by characteristic elements of her hybrid social, performance, and video practice, has served as the forum for the group’s critical engagement with complex social and civic issues. The films produced during the summer camp—ranging from traditional interviews to more poetic three-channel art installations—have been exhibited at the Haggerty each fall. Project website:

(Re)Housing the American Dream: A Message from the Future

(Re)Housing the American Dream: A Message from the Future, three-channel video, 2017, duration 13:42 min

How to imagine a future America when you are thirteen in what feels like a rather uncertain time? How are our desires and fears marked by the reality of today? How to give shape to these future imaginations through performative actions? Referencing Lygia Pape’s performance ‘Divisor’ and Simone Forti’s ‘Huddle’ the students create a sensorial cartography of the future, of the individual and the collective. They wrote a manifesto, embody the future creative work force, planted flags devised from silver emergency blankets in the neighborhood, took over the streets moving as one collective body and created a large-scale ‘monument of the future’ in public space in response to the Charlottesville protests. Collectively they imagined how we could move forward as a nation comprised of a multitude of histories and identities, like the group itself.

The Shape of Things (Come Tomorrow)

Duration 15:58 min, 2017

Video interviews, part of (Re)Housing the American Dream: A Message from the Future The participants talk about their future selves, a future America and the future of the world – while reflecting back on our times today.

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