Americana is a creative series that exposes the underpinnings of collective American nostalgia, particularly white America. This project is inspired by sociologist Arlie Hochschild’s book, “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right” and my own complicity in today’s cultural climate as an American white female. I am compelled to scale, what Hochschild terms, the empathy wall to escape my liberal blue bubble and to feel what Donald Trump voters feel. In this performative series, I examine the imagined America so near-and-dear-and-sometimes-with-fear-to-our-hearts.

Untitled Final Fridays is the DAM’s monthly late-night program featuring unconventional experiences developed in collaboration with local creatives and community members. August’s Untitled event highlights the creative practice of performance and dance artist Kate Speer, with the theme “A(me)ricana,” inspired by The Light Show. Kick-up your feet with country, soul, and contemporary line dances, folklórico, and interactive installations that shed light on your American dream and mine.

Americana: Entitled is a dance work, choreographed by Kate Speer, that is performed upon a deteriorating landscape of the United States. As the dance progresses, the dancers’ footprints through molasses leave tracks, lines, and divisions across the landscape. With an original music score by composer Michael Clark, the sound mixes nostalgic American rock with abrasive, distorted guitar riffs to create a dystopian atmosphere. Performers are Maggie Ammons, Amy Bishop, Jessica Troppmann, Rowan Salem, and Kate Speer.

In this version, the emphasis is on the self-indulgence of white culture, here represented through Western concert dance, and the destruction–the divisions and lines–created across the United States. Before Western settlers, there were no maps, lines of ownership or division of land, at least in Western understanding. Now there are highways, state lines, reservations controlling Native resources, the list is endless. This brief performance work isolates the indulgence of “art-for-beauty’s sake” against the lasting impact it may leave behind.

Americana performance study performed within Kenzie Sitterud’s The Kitchen Table and The Bedroom, two large-scale immersive installations at 808 Projects. Videography by Carlos D. Flores at Watcheye Studios: