Heidi Hesse

Posted on August 1, 2007 Under Art

When times get hard in America, one of the more intelligent things we can do to sort ourselves out is to remember history and look to our immigrants. Sometimes we need the perspective of an outsider to understand what we have become. Heidi Hesse is a German-born artist who was raised in South Africa and Germany and emigrated to America in 1982. She is currently considering the naturalization process.

Some of her recent projects include Apple Pie Project, Drawing on the Constitution, and Exporting Liberty. Clearly she has America, and American identity on her mind. But unlike Werner Herzog, another German artist with an interest in America, Hesse’s work is at least as troubling as it is celebratory. Take for instance the word “liberty” in red script made out of plastic so that it looks something like the Coca-Cola logo. Abstracted and branded in this way as a part of the Drawing on the Constitution project, we are forced to look again at a word "” and an ideal "” that is supposed to be fundamental to the American experience. I don’t have time here, but I would suggest that the portraits in the Apple Pie Project are also deeply troubling. And the Humvee covered in gum balls that appears along with this post? I don’t think we even need to analyze that one.