My American Girl (2018–19)

correspondence

“Good to see a video of you, so that I can believe all that happened is really true, and not a dream.” –Matthias


My American Girl is a collaborative performance of fantasy by a German man (Matthias) and an American woman (myself). Our correspondence began on Berlin Craigslist, where Matthias was “looking for an American girl” years after a cross-continental relationship disintegrated and left him with a feeling of longing. When I met Matthias, I was also filled with a longing for a past relationship. Matthias and I began corresponding with one another as placebo lovers, inserting each other into real histories and rewriting past narratives, transforming our loss into a collective love object.

Our relationship began with an email correspondence, then shifted into a series of videos sent back and forth. With no hierarchy in place defending reality, our conversations dismantled traditional power structures between the lover and the beloved, the artist and the muse, the author and her subject, and fiction and nonfiction. My American Girl proposes fantasy and an alternative to an embodied or psychological experience of separation.

With each correspondence, we advanced the performance, obliging the other to remember specific moments we’d never shared, along with sensations of touch, sadness, and joy —  authentic emotions rarely conjured between strangers online.


Versions of this work have exhibited at Open White Gallery in Berlin and Elsewhere Gallery in Brooklyn. The performance is featured in EMERGENCY INDEX: An Annual Document of Performance Practice, Vol. 9, published by Ugly Duckling Presse, 2020.