damien drew photography damien drew photography

statement

'Everywhere was Wherever'

I was seduced long ago by the romance of wheeled portrayals of America in film, music and literature. The images in this series were captured in November 2013 on a 6000 mile, 18 day solo motorcycle trip from Miami to Los Angeles.

I had anticipated the landscapes of Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld and Ed Ruscha yet the sense of place and roadside texture of the America they captured seemed starkly absent. I rode through a landscape of relentless franchises, hotels and gas stations. Many small towns seemed closed for business. Their vernacular buildings stood vacant and all traffic was focused on the ubiquitous chains.

This was the periphery of an America perched tenuously between decay and development. Remnant facades stood witness to my journey like locations for a film not yet made. As lonely masks each sat incomplete yet interchangeable. In this increasingly anonymous landscape every intersection presented a choice, seemingly arbitrary, as every destination felt the same.

Howard Kunstler laments America’s descent into ‘placelessness’ in his book ‘The Geography of Nowhere’. America is a country transformed from vital places and communities to a land where every place is no place in particular. My journey came to feel like a search for both personal and geographical identity.

In photographer Jeff Brouw’s monograph ‘Approaching Nowhere’ William L. Fox writes; “the vernacular was in peril. Everywhere was wherever and there is no escaping it”.

Damien Drew

June 2015