Guggenheim UBS MAP

What Does “America” Mean to You?

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.

  • Cherrian Angela Chin

    There’s room for a debate, considering all immigration problems and the recent surge of illegal immigrants…

  • Dicksonrp

    There was once a great nation called the U.S.A – United States of America. Now sadly U.S.A has become the United Slaves of Aipac – after the jewish terrorist grouping which has enslaved all the goyims in America to work for is-real-hell!!!

  • Some_chilean_dude

    The whole “America is a whole continent” thing, by Alfredo Jaar is not about latinos becoming one third of the total population of the US. The matter is actually more complicated and interesting than that. By exposing this work of art Alfredo Jaar is pushing back at one of the oldest fundational myths of the US, namely: the fact that the United States IS America, when in fact that name was given to the Whole land mass across the Atlantic ocean that was not a part of Eurafrasia (the antarctic region and Oceania weren’t known at the time, for quite known reasons…). This name was used given that one italian intellectual who first proposed that there was a giant landmass (now known to stretch from Canada to the southernmost places in Chile and Argentina) other than that supercontinen previously known by europeans (afforementioned Eurafrasia). The name of such man was Amerigo Vespucci –hence the name America–. The specific reasons why this name was misused by the nacent nation of the United States remain, to me, unclear. I don’t know who used the term first and i don’t know where exactly was it used. What i can say with some certainty is that the name America was adopted to emphasize the non-european identity of the US and also to inspire some emotions about the whole “we are the new world, we are completely free, we have no chains nor boundaries” and so on.
    To this day the only reason why this myth is still alive is because of some very obvious reason: nationalism.

    • deedub1

      There’s a simpler reason US residents call ourselves “Americans” — there’s no good English equivalent to ‘estadounidense.’ Mexico is only one state in the Estados Unidos de Mexico, but you don’t hear Guadalajarans complaining that they’re being slighted.