The American Dream Today

Petter Alexander Goldstine, Oslo, Norway, 2007
Author: Petter Alexander Goldstine
Directed by Petter Alexander Goldst

My life in art began with fine art photography, which manifested into a social documentary form. In the last six years I have lived among homeless Americans, Gypsies, Palestinians and Israelis, Kurds, Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and guerrilla soldiers; the outcasts of our society. My experiences with these people taught me about a humanity I have rarely felt from photographs. I began to understand that a world of media and advertising has desensitised our ability to be affected by mere images. Thus I set out to search for other forms to contact the «viewer». From my journalistic background I have found that art takes up where news and media fall short; to inform people.

Concerned with my influence on society and the influence of society on my actions, I began to see communication from a new perspective. Performance is a direct form of communication, one in which we experience on a daily basis, person to person being the most intimate form of communication. Through this awareness I have begun to understand that the audience’s experience helps define my form of expression and that a community must be formed among the audience along with the performer. My attempt is to make the visitor an essential physical part of what is going on, so that thought and interpretation come from outside the performance and some time later, ultimately confronting them with their own humanity.

The Theme: It’s about Americans. The American Dream is a question under constant discussion; it exemplifies the idea that through hard work, courage and determination one can achieve prosperity resulting in success. I have been met with consistent cynicism when I have asked younger people about the American dream. Cookie cutter answers of the clichés we have grown up with are the responses to my questions. To find out what the American dream means today, I have to find another approach; I am seeking the personal dreams of Americans.

I have been living abroad for the last four years, during which I have travelled though Europe and the Middle East, worked with multi- cultural groups, lived in communal artists’ collectives and seen America from a distance. I have learned that, among other things, nations do not make up individuals. Yet this is exactly what is occurring around the world, nations representing individuals, not the other way around. The United States has become a symbol produced by media and pop culture, creating a false sense of America and the people living there. This misrepresentation is growing not only abroad but domestically as well.

My goal is to stop generalizing, at least not as much as before.
The Scenario: A dinner party. Guests receive an invitation for two in the mail.
Six to eight guests are invited each evening, introductions are made and drinks are served. Music is playing in the background, something American. It’s a dinner party, guest mingle while I prepare the food, recipes from people I have met in the United States.

After dinner I show a slideshow of my travels through the United States, nothing highbrow, just a slide show. Food for thought you might call it. Discussion. The gathering of strangers usually convenes around a table with this food for thought. The topic of discussion includes, but is not limited to; ambitions and goals as opposed to dreams; how the American dream has moved throughout the world and its affects on the global community today; are dreams manufactured by society or its individuals; what can be read into the fabric of a society through its dreams.

“Marry Xmas to you! And thank you so much for your brilliant, brave, excellent and amazing dinner party! I will always look with a special attention to my dreams after this party. Thank u again! And good luck to upon your way of dreams.”
Yvonne (from text messages by guests)

“He invites people to his home and opens a special atmosphere. Goldstine is able to create close relations this way, and he mixes in love with what he does… Goldstine invests something of himself in this. He makes dinner himself, but the best was the desert.”
Boel Christensen-Scheel, Dagbladet, 2006




directed by Petter Alexander Goldstine


Petter Alexander Goldstine (1975) – his first artistic expressions were social documentary photographs. He lived among American homeless people, the Roma, Palestinians and Israelites, Curds, illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and guerrilla soldiers – the outcasts of society. His experiences with those people thought him a lot about humanity he had rarely felt from photographs. He started to realize that the world of media and show-business made our ability insensitive to be influenced “only” by a picture from reality. He started to search for another ways of drawing attention of the spectator. Being a journalist he understood that art stays where the news and media ends. Connecting his influence on society, the influence of society on him and the influence of the environment on the social events he started to learn how to provoke particular feelings in people. The performance can be taken as a direct way of communication, the only one we experience in an every- day life scheme, as the most private and most intimate way of communication.
His aim is to make the guest an essential part of the action in order to keep the idea and interpretation in the minds of the spectators and leave a track in them. In the end he confronts them with their own humanity.