Where the Green Ants Dream

Aspects of Community in Six Parts

Carol Becker

2002, first presented in November 2001, 19 pages. Number 12 in the Paper Series on the Arts, Culture and Society. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, 65 Bleecker Street, 7th floor, New York, NY 10012, 212-387-7555

Contemplating community after September 11 can be mind-numbing when we think of the specific communities it engendered. Children who lost parents, parents who lost children, spouses who lost life partners, men and women who lost brothers and sisters, people who hate, and conspiracy theorists quickly come to mind. In Carol Becker's paper Where the Green Ants Dream: Aspects of Community in Six Parts, the author reflects on a pre-September 11 United States ("The U.S. had become alarmingly self-satisfied and caught in a spectacle of its own creation."), and after the devastation ("The nation...operated as a community, glued as it was to the same images for an excruciating moment that extended to a week, a month, six weeks.”) She goes on to present six aspects of community that intersect or converge.

In Becker's observations, past meets future, science fiction meets fairy tale, and the lines between the public and the private blur. Community is not just where we live, but the institutions in our cities, and the people outside our immediate neighborhoods with whom we share affinities. An art school becomes a place where outcasts and misfits are valued contributors to a contemporary and historical society. Each “aspect” takes the temperature, so to speak, of the state of “community” at this moment.

The author poses many more questions than she answers. As readers, we might be quick to view them as rhetorical, but should instead be moved to ponder them in the context of our own lives. In doing so, we become active participants in the evolution of the concept of community.
Becker elucidates the inspiration for her paper's title — a Werner Herzog film of the same name — and concludes that our understanding of the present, our willingness to move slowly and deliberately, and an awareness of the world beyond the insular realms in which we live are the keys to building a solid global community.

Carol Becker is dean of faculty and vice president for academic affairs, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Gina Mackintosh