A New American Dream
Photographs by Coll.eo
Essay by Alexandra Fine
Interview by The Famous Curator
Release date: December 18, 2014
Features: Dust jacket, 128 pages, illustrations, full color.
Format: 10 x 8 inches = 25 x 20 cm
Limited edition of 99 copies
Coll.eo's A New American Dream offers a startling and fresh perspective on American street photography. Although at first glance the work looks disturbingly familiar and well within the traditional bounds of an admittedly stale genre, their modus operandi is anything but predictable. All of the images are appropriated from Google Street View; over a period of two years, Coll.eo took advantage of the Google's intrusive tool of mass surveillance to virtually - and, above all, safely - drive the unseen and overlooked roads of San Francisco, bleak places that are forgotten, economically devastated, and completely ignored by the digerati. With an informed, shameless sense of entitlement, Coll.eo selected and decoded these previously photographed scenes of urban decay, documenting the sheer inequality of the so-called technology capital of the world, pointing the finger from a vantage point. Coll.eo grabbed the machine-made images as they appear on the computer screen, framing and liberating them from their technological origins and making a buck or two in the process. After all, this is the New American Dream.
Modeled after a previous, prestigious precedent, A New American Dream documents a recursive gesture of appropriation, one that appropriates the appropriated, foregrounding the sheer contradictions that informed the “original” project. This is “Appropriation squared”, with a dash of institutional criticism that questions the goals, premises, and assumptions of grossly misinformed, “socially aware” post-photographic practices.
Coll.eo is a collaboration between Colleen Flaherty and Matteo Bittanti established in 2012. Flaherty is a visual artist trained as a painter and a sculptor. She received her M.F.A. in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco in 2002 and her B.F.A. Cum Laude, with emphasis in Painting and Drawing from San Jose State University in 1999. Her work has been presented in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Montevideo, Uruguay, and Pienza, Italy. Co-founder of Random Parts, an artist run space in Oakland, California, Flaherty lives in Northern California. Matteo Bittanti is an interdisciplinary artist born in Milan, Italy. His artworks lie at the intersection between videogames, toys, cinema, and the web. Bittanti's works have been presented in the United States, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, France, and Italy.
Alexandra Fine received a Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College in Comparative American Studies with coursework in Classics and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. In 2014, she earned her MA in Critical & Visual Studies at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Alex has worked with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Exploratorium, Creativity Explored, Intersection for the Arts, and Sins Invalid. Alex is currently working on her Ph.D. in Cultural Studies at the University of California, Davis.
The Famous Curator works in one of the many Art World big boxes disseminated in the United States. A graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, she received her PhD in art history from Harvard University. In 2013, her conversation with Coll.eo appeared online to great acclaim. She is currently working on a book about post-photographic practices and wealth inequality. Expect nothing less than an eye opener.
Amelia Rina, "An Old American Problem", Art Pratical, September 15, 2015