"One could perhaps
label American Pictures a "masterpiece", but such a label would
obscure the power and overwhelming grip this production exercises on its
challenges the viewer to act, not merely to react cathartically. It expresses
a global reality and responsibility we all share. Its spirit stands somewhere
between Studs Terkel's hopeful elegies and Herbert Marcuse's one dimensional
It possesses an objectivity
which only a non-native American could express. No mere description or
praise can convey the experience of American Pictures. It is a presentation
that all Americans must experience for themselves."
Grey City Journal 1981
University of Chicago
Pictures is Brechtian epic theater par excellence. The audience is constantly
aware and inspired that Holdt, a foreigner, is genuinely interested in
the underlying currents of the American social system and concerned for
those who have to struggle so hard against them."
Grey City Journal 1987
University of Chicago
weeks ago, I reached an important plateau in my evolution......Not a single
day has passed without "American Pictures" oppressing my outlook."
The Daily Illini
University of Illinois
I'm sort of shocked," said Stacey Shields. "I'm surprised that
it's my nation." Darren Gouran was also surprised by the show. "I
really had no idea what to expect," he said. "It's amazing --
stunning. I walked in and I was just like, wow, what did I walk into?"
somber journey into the darkest souls of America.... an emotionally and
intellectually compelling vision of America."
The Univ. of Wisconsin
After I saw "American
Pictures" I left feeling totally hopeless and helpless. I can only
recall feeling so totally helpless in response to one other issue....the
environment. Racism rages in our society but is not beyond our control.
We do not entirely understand racism or the environment and in our ignorance
we act in harmful ways......
All we can do is to keep our differences in mind, searching for a healthy
balance based on recognition and understanding. Holdt has accomplished
this by communicating to his viewers that mutual solidarity is a viable
option to enact change.
Yale Daily News
accessibility, combined with the unique perspective of someone from a
racially and economically homogeneous country, gives Holdt a new outlook
on American racism and its effect on our society."
The Daily Californian
Ole Bech-Petersen examines "American Pictures," a slide
show of Jacob Holdt's experiences in the US in photography translated
into a book.
The book raises important questions about travel and identity and about
the possibilities and limits of using the US to mobilize new racial and
national identities for non-Americans.
The fatalistic hobo: Jacob Holdt, touring, and the other Americans