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By Naomi Harris
$11,298 pledged of $35,000 goal
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About this project

The story behind EUSA

My project EUSA documents American-themed places in Europe and European-themed places in America. 

In the U.S. these “European” venues resemble a land of make-believe, like something out of a fairy-tale. They are magical, whimsical and quaint and the attendees are paying tribute to their ancestry and origins. In Europe these American-themed amusement parks and festivals reveal an ongoing enthusiasm for a mythologized "America" of the past, when the U.S. was considered glorious and free, with cowboys and Indians roaming the wide-open plains just like in the movies. The foundation of these locations was to honour the “other,” but what was once characteristic has now ultimately become a caricature. 

Photographing these fascinating locations across these two continents my goal was to illustrate the enthusiasm we have for one another's culture and heritage. These exaggerated reconstructions bear little authenticity and rather are a perception of fantasy, a sense of what the other wishes the reality to be. And through this spirit of camaraderie, if only for that moment, the participants are granted membership to another’s culture. 

Globalization has made the uniqueness of a particular country less significant, thus creating an indistinguishable common world community. EUSA is a reaction to the homogenization of European and American cultures. Being enthralled by another country's way of life does not mean that it is always an accurate portrayal. Rather it becomes a sentimental and idealized depiction; an homage to a heritage that isn't ones own. 

I began this project in June 2008 photographing High Chaparral, a wild-west theme park in southern Sweden. Since then I’ve visited over twenty-five locations on both sides of the Atlantic including ‘Indian' festivals in Germany, a Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, an American Civil War reenactment in the Czech Republic, a Maifest in Leavenworth, Washington, numerous Oktoberfests around the United States, and a variety of 'Cowboy and Indian' amusement parks throughout Europe. I ended the project at a Norwegian Festival in Petersburg, Alaska in 2015. 

EUSA the book

EUSA will be a high quality photo book containing 145 Technicolor photographs and is designed by award winning Dutch designer Teun van der Heijden. The edit is haphazard. Are you in America? Are you in Europe? Who knows, but guessing is part of the fun!

German book publisher Kehrer-Verlag is publishing EUSA, launching it this November at Paris Photo. 

  • Email conversation by Erik Kessels and Carolina Miranda
  • Size: 22 x 23 cm portrait format
  • Volume: Softcover book, content 190 pages 
  • 1250 copies
  • Language: English

Who is Naomi Harris

Canadian Naomi Harris is an environmental portrait photographer who seeks out interesting cultural trends to document through her subjects. Personal projects include “Haddon Hall” in which she documented the lives of the last remaining elderly residents at a hotel in South Beach, “America Swings” in which she documented the phenomenon of swinging over the course of 5 years (from 2003 to 2008) all over the United States, and “Oh Canada,” an ongoing project photographing her homeland. 

EUSA is her third book; TASCHEN released her book “America Swings” first as a limited collectors edition in 2008 and again in 2010 as a trade edition. Artist Richard Prince interviewed Ms. Harris for the book and it was edited by Dian Hanson. Editions Intervalles published her first book “California Dreaming” in 2007, a collection of photos by Naomi Harris and interviews by Yann Perreau about immigrants who moved to LA in search of their American dream. 

Awards and accolades include EUSA being shortlisted for the Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award in Arles, France in 2016, receiving a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Photography in 2013, a Long-Term Career Advancement Grant from the Canada Council in 2012, participating in the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in 2004, receiving the International Prize for Young Photojournalism from Agfa/ Das Bildforum in 2001 as well as honorable mention for the Yann Geffroy Award and being a W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography finalist. 

In April 2017 she was a recipient of a Canada Council for the Arts ‘New Chapter’ Grant, for which she’ll canoe the fur trader’s route in Ontario for ten weeks in the summer of 2018.

 

Risks and challenges

There are no risks! This book is a sure thing. German book publisher Kehrer-Verlag is publishing EUSA, launching it this November at Paris Photo. But by you purchasing a copy of your own here on Kickstarter, you’re helping me with the costs of producing and publishing it making it a win-win for us all!

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    Thank You

    Handwritten 'Thank You' from Maggie and Naomi Harris.

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    EUSA book

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    EUSA book + 6x6 print + America Swings

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    EUSA book + 6x6 print + coffee/walk

    * ONLY AVAILABLE TO THOSE LIVING IN LOS ANGELES.

    A signed copy of EUSA book, personalized upon request, along with a 6x6 print from the project AND a coffee meeting and hike with Maggie and me.

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    Special edition: EUSA + 12x12 print

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    EUSA book + 24 hours in Solvang, CA!

    A signed copy of EUSA book, personalized upon request, and a trip to Solvang to discuss the creation of EUSA and one-on-one photo lesson (pledger is expected to travel to Los Angeles and we'll travel to Solvang together)

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    EUSA book + Portrait session

    A signed copy of EUSA book, personalized upon request, a portrait session with Naomi Harris, and a 20X24” print of finished image (my travel included within North America...anything outside TBD)

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