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Exhibit Design & Museum-Related Projects: Skirball Cultural Center

El Sueño Americano / The American Dream: Photographs by Tom Kiefer

October 17, 2019–March 8, 2020

Drawn from the photographic series of the same name, this exhibition asks us to consider how we treat migrants as a reflection of who we are and who we want to be as Americans. Responding to the dehumanizing treatment migrants face in detention, Kiefer carefully arranged and photographed objects seized and discarded by border officials—objects deemed “potentially lethal” or “non-essential” among a variety of belongings crucial for sustenance, hygiene, protection, comfort, and emotional strength. Blending documentary and fine art photography, Kiefer’s images are a poignant testament to the hardships of migration and a call to return to human decency in how we treat each other.

Photography by Robert Wedemeyer

© Skirball Cultural Center, 2019

The title wall gave a sense of place with a photograph of the border crossing in Ajo, Arizona

The photos have a strange effect - at first appealing because of bright colors, you soon realize the gravity of the objects you're viewing.

His photos include large scale assemblies of like objects arrayed precisely...

And small scale objects, photographed individually on brightly colored paper, hung in a tight grid

A listening station plays selections from a seized set of CDs

Perhaps the most upsetting images are those of bibles, inscribed with personal messages, that were also confiscated as contraband.

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