Allen Ruppersberg

How to Remember a Better Tomorrow, 1989-1994


How to Remember a Better Tomorrow is part of a larger installation produced in the John Weber Gallery in New York, which was presented as a cabinet of curiosities/Wunderkammer, filled with junk and out of date information. “Presented as substitute fragments of a half-forgotten past, they attract our attention to the imperfections of our old perception of the world, and to the memory that we have decided to keep of it”, wrote Dan Cameron about this work, whose title refers to the film A Better Tomorrow (1945), which, for Ruppersberg, in the immediate postwar period, dealt with “the idealization and erosion of American life”. The work thus includes two elements:  the model of an American colonial-style house surrounded with greenery, and a video projection of advertising films from the 1950s, boasting the pleasures of a family-based way of life inside the suburban home. In both sections, the same stereotype prevails. Once again, the chords of reality are duplicated through the fictional representation of an architectural maquette, and the ephemeral screening of films with an ideological content, with both striving to offer a “vision” of perfect, idyllic happiness. This process of duplication—or dissociation—in two scenes gives rise to a phenomenon whereby reality is removed:  the representation of an architecture in maquette form and that given by the advertising film both equally refer to the representation of the house as if what was involved was mirrors in which reflections of reality are lost, in which the author’s voice is lost, and in which all that remains is the simulacrum of a simulacrum.

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