Privacy Policy

American Night Portraits (Series 4)

Portrait (Nr. 1–9, American Night, Series 4), 2009

>> Close

American Night
(Series 4)
(Nr. 1–9)
LightJet print, 40 x 50 cm
Edition 6 + 2 ap

The photo works were created in the context of the five-channel film installation American Night (2009). It reflects upon the Western film genre by combining ‘the myth of the frontier’ with allusions to today’s hegemonial foreign policy in the USA. Titled after a technique that allows the shooting of night scenes during the day, and François Truffaut’s La Nuit Américaine (1973), the film features fundamental motifs of the Western in its characteristically opulent, extended total shots and its celebration of a sublime nature: the deserted town's main street, the saloon, the waiting woman, etc. As he does frequently in his works, Julian Rosefeldt reveals the myth machinery of film-making by exposing the set’s backdrops and the production process. The central scene, a campfire conversation between five cowboys, consists solely of quotations from films, song texts, statements by politicians and the country’s foundation myth (mirrored in Westerns and asserting the American concept of freedom), and it finally disintegrates into a litany of empty phrases. Throughout the film, Rosefeldt creates a melange of ‘frontier myths’ and present-day occurrences. He combines the figure of the lonesome and self-righteous cowboy with the gangsta-rapper, the cowboy’s speech with the Republican’s rhetoric, and leaves the interpretation to the spectator.

Shot in Andalusia in a mock-up Western town which had already served Sergio Leone's For a Few Dollars More (1965), the film can be read as a metaphorical contemplation on an empire in decay and exudes both the director's love for the mythology of the Western genre and his delight in its partial deconstruction.

Summarised from Stefan Berg, in: Julian Rosefeldt: American Night (2009)

Exhibitions / Catalogues

Julian Rosefeldt. Lonely Planet, Barbara Gross Galerie, Munich, September–October 2012
Julian Rosefeldt – World-Making. Film and Photo Works 2001–2011, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, April–June 2012  
   (curated by Mei-ching Fang, Fang-wei Chang; catalogue)
Julian Rosefeldt. Photo Works, Arndt, Berlin, June–August 2011
Julian Rosefeldt – Making Of. Film Installations and Photo Works 2004–2010, DA2 – Domus Artium, Salamanca,
   October 2010–March 2011 (curated by Javier Panera)

Photo Works / American Night, 2009 / American Night Portraits (Series 4)