Suburbia: building the American Dream

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© Bill Owens | Suburbia, Cul de sac, Pleseanton, California, 1972

Who hasn't longed for the American dream? A big house with a garden, a swimming pool and a couple of cars in the garage. A quiet, safe place to live as a family, close to nature in a people-friendly neighbourhood. This exhibition traces the cultural history of a lifestyle ideal that has been endlessly reproduced on television, in advertising and in cinema, and analyses the validity and the most controversial aspects of its urban planning model.

© JoelMeyerowitz | Land, Provincetown, 1976

"Suburbia. Building the American Dream" draws us into the imaginary of the idyllic family home and shows how this lifestyle has been sold and promoted by fiction and the entertainment industry. The exhibition goes back to the origins of residential neighbourhoods in the early nineteenth century, explains how they developed massively in the 1950s, and reviews the economic, political and social context of their relentless expansion across the United States.

Vista aèria de Levittown, 1949

Now, when more and more families are pursuing their own version of the dream on the outskirts of cities, it is a good moment to analyse the contradictions of an urban planning model based on social, ethnic and gender segregation.

The dream of living in a house with a swimming pool is still very much alive today and has been exported all over the world. The exhibition shows the impact of this highly unsustainable model, based on constant car use, with examples of developments around Barcelona and Madrid.

With abundant historical material, period documentaries, photographs, paintings, films and series, novels and magazines, works of art and everyday objects, the exhibition places us in the mental paradise of the suburb and invites us to rethink the value of the city and public space today.

© GregStimac |Chandler, Arizona de Mowing the Lawn portfolio, 2006

"Suburbia. Building the American Dream" presents the work of foremost creators who, from different points of view, help us to take a critical look at the famed American way of life: Jessica Chou, Gregory Crewdson, Thomas Doyle, Gerard Freixes, Rodrigo Fresán, Gabriele Galimberti, Weronika Gesicka, Benjamin Grant, Todd Hido, Joel Meyerowitz, Matthias Müller, Blanca Munt, Alberto Ortega, Bill Owens, Sheila Pree Bright, León Siminiani, Todd Solondz, Amy Stein, Greg Stimac, Angela Strassheim, Deborah Stratman, Ed & Deanna Templeton, Kate Wagner and Christopher Willan.

March 20, 2024
September 8, 2024
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