Robert Hirsch
Manifest Destiny & The American West
CEPA Gallery (http://cepagallery.com)
July 9 - August 24, 2005


Manifest Destiny & The American West is a stylized three-dimensional image catalog representing the infinite and competing geography that has shaped the American culture and psyche from Coronado to today.

Manifest Destiny was a nineteenth century belief that the United States had a divinely inspired mission to expand, particularly across the North American frontier towards the Pacific Ocean. New York journalist John O'Sullivan coined the phrase in 1845, when he wrote "it was the nation's manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us." Manifest Destiny was never a specific policy or ideology; rather it was a widespread notion that brought together the components of American exceptionalism, nationalism, expansionism, racism, and divine fate. Many historians think that the underlying concepts of Manifest Destiny continue to inform American outlook and policy both at home and abroad.

Manifest Destiny & The American West consists of over 900 individual jars, each containing an image with two of the same pictures printed on a black field. Every archival print is rolled image side out and placed inside a clear 32 oz glass jar with a black plastic top. When the jars are viewed, the same image is visible from either side. The jars have been placed in all the windows of CEPA's Flux Main Street Gallery, providing a "transparent" viewing, which is juxtaposed against a series of 40 x 60 inch prints on the interior gallery wall. This amalgamation of historical and original images offer a complex and variable narrative that explores the relationships between the people, land, and animals of North America’s frontier as it unfolded across a blood-streaked stage.

Quicktime video of the installation in CEPA's Flux Gallery.


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