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Transitional Objects Are Not Toys: Illusion, Fantasying, and Negative Psychogenics in Thomas Kiefer's El Sueño Americano

Transitional Objects Are Not Toys: Illusion, Fantasying, and Negative Psychogenics in Thomas... Daniel G. Butler Transitional Objects Are Not Toys Illusion, Fantasying, and Negative Psychogenics in Thomas Kiefer’s El Sueño Americano From July 2003 to August 2014, artist Thomas Kiefer worked as a janitor for a Cus- toms and Border Protection facility in Southwest Arizona. When Kiefer moved to Arizona in the early 2000s, the CBP job was intended to keep his art practice afloat. But that changed about four years later when Kiefer began photographing possessions confiscated from families detained at the U M .S.- exico b order. Kiefer’s janitorial duties evolved into years of archival work that culminated in El Sueño Americano, an exhibition that for many is a timely exposé of American xenophobia and growing antdemo i- cratic nationalism. Initially Kiefer noticed unspoiled food being discarded, but gradually he found “other things . . . like Bibles and toys and rosaries . . . I couldn’t let those things remain in the trash” (Holson 2008). CBP confiscation policies restrict migrants from keeping “no essn- en tial” and “poten- tially lethal” objects, which Kiefer long understood. But some of the objects confis- cated were, in Kiefer’s eyes, essential and most far from lethal: in addition to bibles, toys, and http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Transitional Objects Are Not Toys: Illusion, Fantasying, and Negative Psychogenics in Thomas Kiefer's El Sueño Americano

The Comparatist , Volume 45 – Nov 11, 2021

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Copyright © Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts
ISSN
1559-0887

Abstract

Daniel G. Butler Transitional Objects Are Not Toys Illusion, Fantasying, and Negative Psychogenics in Thomas Kiefer’s El Sueño Americano From July 2003 to August 2014, artist Thomas Kiefer worked as a janitor for a Cus- toms and Border Protection facility in Southwest Arizona. When Kiefer moved to Arizona in the early 2000s, the CBP job was intended to keep his art practice afloat. But that changed about four years later when Kiefer began photographing possessions confiscated from families detained at the U M .S.- exico b order. Kiefer’s janitorial duties evolved into years of archival work that culminated in El Sueño Americano, an exhibition that for many is a timely exposé of American xenophobia and growing antdemo i- cratic nationalism. Initially Kiefer noticed unspoiled food being discarded, but gradually he found “other things . . . like Bibles and toys and rosaries . . . I couldn’t let those things remain in the trash” (Holson 2008). CBP confiscation policies restrict migrants from keeping “no essn- en tial” and “poten- tially lethal” objects, which Kiefer long understood. But some of the objects confis- cated were, in Kiefer’s eyes, essential and most far from lethal: in addition to bibles, toys, and

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Nov 11, 2021

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