‘Fatherland’ is an umbilical tug-of-war, an untangling and re-tangling of fraught relationships with father and with nation, which not only parallel, but interweave, intertwine, and knot. It is a glimpse behind the curtain of the mythologies and fantasies of the American Dream, which blur into the living of daily life in the U.S. to the point of being indistinguishable. In examining my relationship to my father and the empire into which I was born, I seek to interrogate the way in which this mythology, including pop culture and repeated national narratives, merge with daily life, and how these ideas are transmitted through the family structure to create the national subject. While this series has a national focus, interested in the fantasies that allow for the perpetuation of the violence that underlies U.S. culture and foreign and domestic policy, it is grounded in my own deeply patriotic military family, particularly my father’s relationship with my brother and I. The Hollywood glamour of Top Gun and t-shirts sporting “9/11 Never Forget” are not separate from my father’s enlistment in the Navy. And his influence (and, in a different way, that of my mother) is definitely not separate from my brother joining the Army, after having been groomed for it through movies, sports, Boy Scout meetings, and dinner table discussions. ‘Fatherland’ exploits my position straddling the division between inside and outside, having a front-row look into U.S. nationalism, yet remaining critical of what it represents and perpetuates. In doing so, I look to examine not only the foundations of nationalism, but my own complicity in it. To create a believable narrative for the American public to buy into, the strings must be tucked away, the show must be believable, well-rehearsed– the State and status quo depend on it. But what happens when the Dream is denaturalized, when its performative nature is betrayed by the tag of a costume, the edge of a backdrop? At an absolutely critical political moment to investigate the roots of U.S. nationalism and militarism, it is vital to dwell in that space between attraction and repulsion, to hold in both hands the humor, allure, and nostalgia of nationhood, at the same time as the violence of its colonial, imperial past and present, its exploitation of both people and the land.
© Katerina Voegtle