Americamerica by Matt Keegan

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In early 2008, New York artist Matt Keegan undertook a journey that loosely followed the 1986 Hands Across America route. He took casts of thirteen mayors across the way, and as he traced a physical connection between New York and Los Angeles, he began to draw other connections between 2008 and 1986, particularly between the Reagan and Bush Administrations. This book acts not only as a documentation of Keegan’s roadtrip but as an investigation into his feeling, which is shared by many, that our present political and economic experiences can trace their roots to policies of the 1980s. Keegan interviews artists who experienced the 1980s as politically active college students, as children with vague recollections of the historical events they witnessed, and as infants. He addresses such issues as hunger, homelessness, the AIDS crisis, sexuality, real estate, feminism, and corporate greed, mining a diverse range of sources such as publicly displayed artworks, People, Life, and Butt magazines. Americamerica is not the presentation of a thesis but rather a collection of interviews and cultural artifacts that, read together, begin to formulate an answer to the question “How did we get here?”