American Scrapbook by Kim Llerena
My recent work depicts fragments of the American experience. Taken individually, each image tells the story of a very particular place – someone’s yard, a small town with a notable attraction, something that’s been built or dismantled. Viewed together, relationships between disparate places and structures emerge, highlighting a shared American sensibility as well as photography’s capacity for forging new meaning among otherwise isolated moments.
Rather than call out overt political or economic signifiers that epitomize the American condition today, these images seek out iconography from various interconnected systems that direct our collective national consciousness – business, infrastructure, religion, climate, natural resources, domestic space, borders, racism, power, tourism, and more. Within these invisible systems that dictate values, behaviors, and aesthetic preferences, the indelible marks of past actions and diverse quests for an American Dream become potent symbols in our visual landscape.
In many images there is a sense that something is missing, whether physical or contextual, underscoring the incomplete narratives that photographs can often tell. Absent also of human figures, it is as if the subjects of these images are waiting for something, suspended in time, suggesting a portrait of our past, present, and future all at once.
The title is a knowing nod to such seminal documentary photographic projects as Walker Evans’ “American Photographs”, Stephen Shore’s “American Surfaces”, Joel Sternfeld’s “American Prospects”, and Robert Frank’s “The Americans”, the products of individual cross-country road trips undertaken by some of photo history’s most prominent (male) stakeholders.
Kim Llerena lives and works in Washington, DC.
To view more of Kim’s work, please visit her website.