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American Dream
Boardwalk, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY
December 28, 2007

CASUAL CONVERSATIONS IN BROOKLYN
2007-2009

Casual Conversations in Brooklyn is an anthropological inquiry into Brooklyn's immigrant communities. Confronted by a radically different reality these new Americans are bound together by pursuing their American dreams and searching for new identities reflective of their new lives. How does one retain cultural roots while creating a new identity?

The project is based on a series of public dialogues, interactions, and conversations staged in the Brighton Beach community in Brooklyn. By bringing contemporary art out of the gallery and into the community, we create a kind of art/research laboratory in the public realm. Casual Conversations looks at the conflicting desires of this still nascent community.

Every staged conversation aims to provoke its participants to react and to reflect. Every event targets some issue - whether personal or communal - and attempts to elicit a reaction that will eventually become a brushstroke in this community portrait.

Casual Conversations in Brooklyn / American Dream
St. Petersburg bookstore, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY
July 27, 2007 and December 28, 2007
Series of 43 photographs / c-print

We asked shoppers in this popular Russian-language bookstore to share their American Dream with us by writing or drawing it with a magic marker on a "thought bubble". Why did we use a bookstore? During the Iron Curtain era books and films played a very important role in the shaping of an image of the West. During the project, almost every participant shared his or her immigration story with us. We chose some of those stories to accompany the photos. This event was photographed. photo credit: Anton Trofymov