If you’re in Times Square the night of Friday, August 1, you may notice one flashing message suddenly dominating the area’s flux of lighted signs: “This is not America.”
That arresting statement, along with its accompanying image of an outline of the United States, comes from artist Alfredo Jaar, who originally created the animation, A Logo for America, for the Messages to the Public initiative organized by the Public Art Fund in 1987. During this year’s reenactment, the work will play nightly across five blocks of screens August 1–31 in conjunction with the Guggenheim’s exhibition Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today, the second exhibition of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative.
Juxtaposed with Times Square’s overwhelmingly commercial visual environment, the video has only become more relevant in a globalized age. “America,” still generally used to denote the United States alone, can and should encompass the Latin American population as well. In the clip above, Under the Same Sun exhibition curator Pablo León de la Barra notes that nearly a third of North America’s population is, in fact, Latin American. He reminds us that, “We cannot continue talking about Latin America as we used to before . . . Latin America is the continent.”
Along with León de la Barra and Jaar, we invite you to visit Times Square at 11:57 in the coming month and reflect on the meaning of “America” today. Follow the conversation at #GuggUBSMAP, #MidnightMoment on @Guggenheim and @TSqArts.