‘From rags to riches’ – The belief that everyone can achieve their goals through hard work manifests itself in the term American Dream. We encounter this idea already in the Declaration of Independence, in pop culture, in Hollywood movies, novels and it determines our ideas of the land of unlimited possibilities. Bremen-based photographer Volker Beinhorn was also influenced in his youth by American television series, culture and, above all, music. During his travels through the USA, he captured his personal dreams of America with his camera.
With the cabinet exhibition ‘American Dreams – Pictures from the USA’, the Übersee-Museum Bremen presents a selection of around 60 photographs by Beinhorn. They tell of the situation in the country, of hopes and the (futile) pursuit of happiness. The images, characterized by the photographer’s austere formal language, were taken during two trips in 2016 and 2018. The first led from New Orleans to Nashville and New York, the second from New York to San Francisco on Route 66.
The cabinet exhibition is divided into five thematic sections: Architecture on the Move shows the big cities – symbols of the American Dream, characterized by constant growth and change. Opposite them is architecture in decay, the flip side of the American Dream: entire small towns in the U.S. are left to weather. Random snapshots of people stand next to photos of landscapes that give an impression of the vastness of the country. In the American icons that appear again and again in street art, America’s cultural influence is evident far beyond the country’s borders.
The photographer from Bremen is a trained letterpress printer and has worked as a theater photographer for various German stages since his graphic design studies at the HFK. As part of teaching assignments, he has worked with students in the field of fashion at the HFK and at the Academy of Arts. In addition to his work as a portrait and theater photographer, Volker Beinhorn has also been associated with the Übersee-Museum Bremen as a freelance photographer for several years. Music is an indispensable accompaniment and source of inspiration for him, he can be seen and heard regularly as a singer with the band ‘Nightwatch’.
Coordinated with the exhibition, there is a Spotify playlist with selected songs:To the Spotify playlist
The changing cabinet exhibitions of the Übersee-Museum flank and deepen the themes of the permanent exhibitions.
Hudson Yards, New York, 2018, photo: Volker Beinhorn
Near Memphis, 2016, photo: Volker Beinhorn
Family, Chicago, 2018, photo: Volker Beinhorn
Chandler, Oklahoma, 2018, photo: Volker Beinhorn