Pictura Gallery

Benjamin Rasmussen

The Good Citizen

Dates + Events

April Gallery Walk: Benjamin Rasmussen

Friday, April 7 | 5:00pm - 8:00pm

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April Pictura Kids: Advocacy Posters

Saturday, April 8 | 11:00am - 12:00pm

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May Pictura Kids: Benjamin Rasmussen

Saturday, May 6 | 11:00am - 12:00pm

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Writing in the Gallery

Monday, April 17 | 6:30pm - 8:30pm

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The Good Citizen explores how society in the United States came to be what it is today. Who was freely invited into this space and who wasn’t? In what ways are the ripples of our past seen in our present? How can we engage more honestly with our history?

Over a period of eight years, photographer Benjamin Rasmussen travelled to 43 states and photographed over 500 people as he investigated the impact of the country’s complex history on contemporary society.

In the book version of The Good Citizen,
Rasmussen’s photographs are combined with essays by Frank H. Wu. Collectively they seek to provoke thought and conversation around the complicated nature of US identity.

Click to view PDF Exhibition Guide

The photographs in The Good Citizen stretch across the wall like a timeline in a history book. Rather than chronologically, the works unfurl thematically, with each subject bleeding into its neighbor on the wall. Benjamin Rasmussen holds our gaze on parts of the history of the United States that are hard to digest. The accompanying captions in this booklet provide insight into the specific situations pictured and the ways that they link together. Every photograph voices a piece of a larger whole, of the overlapping patterns of exclusion, violence, and injustice within the United States.

Click to view PDF Exhibition Guide

The Good Citizen examines how the mythologies of American exceptionalism and cultural pluralism overshadow a more complex system of white supremacy in the United States.

I was raised in the Philippines by a North American mother and a Faroese father. Since moving to the United States 20 years ago, I have grappled with my North American citizenship and the privilege inherent within it.

For the past decade I have explored this tension by examining the diverse array of identities and experiences present in this country. I photograph Donald Trump as well as a Somali community targeted by his supporters. I look at beauty queens celebrating their immigrant communities and the naturalization laws requiring whiteness which denied so many citizenship until the 1950s. I document the U.S. Mexico border strategy that intentionally funnels migrants into deadly desert crossings.

The Good Citizen creates a framework to bring these and other narratives into communication with one another. The threads of historic legal decisions and government policies are woven together with contemporary experiences. Through my photographs and essays by critical race theorist Frank H. Wu, we create a revisionist history of what it means to be a North American. Following the ripples of that history to our present allows us to interrogate the legacies of whiteness, violence and national character.

A monograph of The Good Citizen will be released by GOST Books in early 2023.


Exhibition Archives