Skip navigation

This Land Was Made for You and Me

Opening tonight in Berlin, This Land Was Made for You and Me explores the idea of America, through the eyes of young American photographers. The title is taken from the Woody Guthrie song This Land Is Your Land, which was written as a critical retort to Irving Berlin’s saccharine God Bless America. Guthrie meant for his song to present not just the scenic landscape of the country, but also the social realities. The show looks to explore those present day realities: particularly the experience of being young, right now, in the USA.

When the curators asked if we would want to cover it for the site, I realized that although I knew the title, and the basic premise, I didn’t know much about their thinking behind the show. So I emailed them a few questions, which are answered below.

Skye Parrott: You guys curated a show that I contributed to that is opening in Berlin this week. The theme is America. Does that mean American photographers in particular, or just America as an idea? What is your idea of America?

Ann-Kathrin Obermeyer: The idea is about American photographers and photographers living in America. When I moved to America, I wasn’t surprised because everything was just like in the movies. Although it took me quite a while to feel really comfortable. Being German/European means it’s not always easy, since we lack the openness which America’s culture is based on. I feel so much richer now after succeeding and adjusting.

Adrian Crispin: I grew up in New York and New Jersey, so for me America has always been about the outsiders, the hero/antihero of subculture. Whitman, Steven Segal, etc.

Skye: I find one of the strangest things about being American that wherever you go in the world, your culture has been accessed by people via movies and television. How much has your idea of America been influence by those mediums?

Adrian: I think movies and TV are quintessentially American and equally important in the shaping and informing of my visual background.

Skye: Adrian, you’re a photographer, and Ann-Kathrin, you’re a stylist. How did the idea come about to curate this show? Has either of you ever curated anything before?

Adrian: We were asked by the gallery director, Kirsten Hermann, to curate a show based on our American experience. Despite having no prior curatorial experience , we both know what we respond to and decided to just do it.

Skye: I’ve curated a couple of shows and really enjoyed it. It feels like putting together pieces of a puzzle. How did you go about picking the photographers for this show? How about the specific images?

Ann-Kathrin: It was a long process of looking at lots of people’s work from all different types of backgrounds until we finally narrowed down the selection of photographers whose work we really responded to and then proceeded to choose images that would work together as a group either as a complimentary dialogue with each other or as counterbalance in opposition.

Skye: You’re a couple, right? How do you find the process of working together while being in a relationship?

Adrian: Yes, we are a couple. We met in Paris at a museum bookshop. I was looking at art books and Ann-Kathrin was looking at fashion magazines. We have a very natural, intuitive, and complimentary way of collaborating from grocery shopping to doing editorials together.

Skye: Do you have plans to curate any more shows together? What would be your dream space to curate something in? Who would be part of that show?

Adrian: It has been a great experience and was a lot of work but now that we are almost at the end and about to physically put everything on the wall.

Ann Kathrin: I would do it again any time. I think a dream space would be the MoMa and also a dream (we were always thinking about this) would be having shows in our apartment with some good food. I definitely would ask Juergen Teller to be a part of it.

Adrian: There is a lot of really talented people out there whose work remains to be seen, so I would include the unknowns.

This Land Was Made for You and Me opens Thursday, April 26 from 7-9 pm at the Galerie fuer Moderne Fotografie, Schroederstrasse 13, Berlin, and runs through June 9.

Top image: RJ Shaughnessy, Black Kid, Afro; Middle image: Anna Moller, Rooster, 2009; Bottom image: Grant Willing, Untitled (Capri Sun), 2009