Issue 172, Winter 2004
Did you think of yourself as a critic of American culture?
Actually, Gruesse aus Amerika was meant to be a personal love letter to America. But that proved to be too general and too sweet an idea to work for me. As time went on it had less and less to do with a realistic or journalistic view of America and more to do with myths, with clichéd notions of what America stands for, what it could have stood for. Take Pocahontas’s Baptism [below], which I photographed from the pages of Klaus Theweleit’s book on the founding of America (Pocahontas in Wonderland, Shakespeare on Tour). Theweleit used a still from an animated cartoon, shot off the TV screen (it still shows the logo of one of the private television stations in Germany in the top corner) as an illustration. For Teweleit, Pocahontas’s story is evidence that there was a brief time window during which America was imagined (at least by some Europeans) as a place of productive cohabitation and miscegenation. The image of Pocahontas’s baptism articulates both, the dream of a different story, and its forceful defeat.