LOS ANGELES BOULEVARDS – Fotografie di Stephen Hilger

Giovanna Pennacchi è lieta di presentare la mostra

LOS ANGELES BOULEVARDS – Fotografie di Stephen Hilger

a cura di Allan Frame

Acta International

Dal 23 Maggio al 12 Giugno

Inaugurazione alla presenza dell’artista

giovedì 23 Maggio – ore 19,00

 La prima volta in cui visitai Los Angeles, vi arrivai con la station wagon dei miei genitori, seduto nel sedile posteriore. Era il 1958 ed eravamo in vacanza per fare un tour nel West. Avevamo lasciato Las Vegas all’imbrunire, guidato attraverso il deserto per arrivare a Beverly Hills tardi in nottata, consultando una mappa che indicava le case delle stelle del cinema, Doris Day, James Stewart, Jack Benny, ed infine Fred Astaire. E lì c’era proprio lui, in persona. Lo vedemmo mentre entrava in macchina e faceva retromarcia sino alla strada. Tirò giù il finestrino e salutò mio padre, che aveva rallentato, sbigottito. “Vi siete persi?” chiese. Mio padre mi afferrò e mi spinse verso il finestrino. “No, non ci siamo persi. Questo è mio figlio che adora i suoi film”. Essendo cresciuto nel Mississippi, ero ammaliato da Hollywood, ed anche più tardi, ero affascinato dalla letteratura noir cui si ispiravano i film, dai romanzi di James Cain, Horace Mccoy, Raymond Chandler, e Nathanael West che ha descritto lo squallido collasso del sogno americano lungo la costa del Pacifico.

Stephen Hilger, che oggi vive a Brooklyn, è nato a Los Angeles. Con lui, i tipici miti glamour e gli intrighi polizieschi del cinema hollywoodiano vengono spogliati fino a rivelare una realtà semplice, comune, a volte lussuosa, a volte seducente e un po’ decadente, con accenni alla noia dei pendolari, alla disparità di guadagni, il tutto addolcito dai fulgidi tramonti, dalle esplosioni di colore in luoghi del tutto inaspettati.

Nei suoi lavori sono assenti sia i turisti che le celebrità. Le poche figure che vi appaiono sono dei lavoratori ed un homeless avvolto in qualcosa che assomiglia ad un sacco per cadavere mentre dorme in una panchina che pubblicizza servizi medici. Per realizzare questo lavoro, Hilger si è messo alla guida, percorrendo ” le strade più lunghe e più larghe, da una parte all’altra della città”, fermandosi per osservare lo spettacolo sempre in evoluzione della vita quotidiana. “Lo scopo è stato di svelare i caratteri della complessa personalità della città di Los Angeles, a un tempo stupendamente bella e malinconica, anacronistica e mutevole”. Come William Eggleston, Hilger rintraccia, casualmente, i principi evangelici ovunque. Il colore è parte integrante del suo lavoro, sia esso una macchia di vernice blu sul fianco di un cottage, o i resti di coriandoli trovati nel fango, oppure il blu di una obsoleta cabina telefonica, oppure il verde di una vecchia cassetta per i quotidiani posta in strada, che poeticamente si rapporta con il color corallo della striscia sul marciapiede. Con senso dell’umorismo, fotografa scritte fatte a mano, dialettali, come quella di un drugstore a conduzione familiare, che pubblicizza “Lavaggi intestinali” e “Supporti cardiovascolari”. La sua preoccupazione principale è stata quella di gettare luce su quegli aspetti occulti e sconosciuti che intaccano la metropoli di L.A. È street-photography con marciapiedi vuoti e boulevards senza fine. Hilger, con un occhio al dettaglio e agli aspetti demografici, riesce a trasformare il senso di desolazione in qualcosa di peculiare, a tratti intimo. Il lavoro di Hilger traccia la memoria storicha del panorama sociale. Il suo recente lavoro, Los Angeles Boulevard costruisce un archivio di motivi visuali nell intersezione degli spazi pubblici e privati attraverso L.A.

Allan Frame

My first time in Los Angeles I rode into town in the back of my parents station wagon. It was 1958. Touring the West on a family vacation, we had left Las Vegas at dusk, driven through the desert, and arrived in Beverly Hills late at night with a movie star map, spotting the homes of Doris Day, James Stewart, Jack Benny, and then, Fred Astaire. There he was in person, in his garage, getting into his car with a date, then  backing out into the street. He rolled down his window, and hailed my father, who had slowed down to gawk. Are you lost? he asked. My father grabbed me and pulled me to the window. No, were not lost, but this is my son. He loves your movies! Growing up in Missisippi, I was star-struck, enthralled with Hollywood, and much later, captivated by the literature of LA, the noirish novels of James Cain, Horace McCoy, Raymond Chandler, and Nathaniel West that depicted the seedy collapse of the American dream at the Pacifics edge.

Stephen Hilger, a Brooklyn-based photographer, is a native of Los Angeles, for whom the typical myths of Hollywood glamour and film-noir intrigue have been peeled away to reveal a plain, nondescript place, sometimes lush, and a little run-down, its hints of commuter tedium and income disparity softened by radiant sunlight and bursts of color in unexpected places. Absent are any celebrities or tourists.

 The few figures who appear are laborers, and a homeless man wrapped in something that looks like a body bag, sleeping on a bench that advertises a medical provider. In making this work, Hilger drives the largest and longest streets from one part of the city to another, stopping along the way to observe the ever-unfolding spectacle that is daily life. His aim, he says, is to reveal elements of the complex character of the city of Los Angeles, at once magnificently beautiful and melancholic, anachronistic and mutable.

Like William Eggleston, Hilger finds the gospel in the random everyday. Color is an integral part of his work, whether its the splotch of blue paint on the white sidewall of a cottage, remnants of confetti found in a gutter, the blue of an obsolete telephone booth, or the green of an old newspaper box rhyming with a coral stripe on the curb. With a sense of humor, he depicts vernacular handmade signs, such as the one in front of a mom and pop drug store that promotes intestinal cleansers and cardiovascular support. For Hilger, the overriding concern is to illuminate the unseen and unknown moments that dent the Los Angeles metropolis in full. This is street photography in a place with empty sidewalks and endless boulevards. With an eye for detail and demographics, he manages to make the desolate feel specific, even familiar. Hilger is a photographer whose work traces historical memory in the social landscape. His most recent work, Los Angeles Boulevards, constructs an archive of visual motifs at the intersection of public and private spaces throughout Los Angeles.

 

By Allen Frame

BIOS

 Stephen Hilger has exhibited at venues including Los Angeles Contemporary Art Exhibitions; Black Dragon Society, Los Angeles; the Contemporary Art Center New Orleans; and Transmitter, Brooklyn. His photographs are in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art. Hilger is the author of the monograph Back of Town (SPQR Editions, 2016), the limited-edition publication BLVD (ROMAN NVMERALS, 2017), and his photographs have appeared in periodicals including New York Magazine and the New York Times. His writing about photography and contemporary art has appeared in Aperture’s PhotoBook Review and BOMB. Hilger received his B.A. and M.F.A. degrees from Columbia University and was a participant in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program. He currently teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where he is an Associate Professor in the Photography Department and he is also the Director of Education at the Gordon Parks Foundation.

Hilger was a Pratt Institute School of Art Affiliated Fellow at the American Academy in Rome during October 2018. This is his first exhibition in Italy.

Allen Frame is based in New York and represented by Gitterman Gallery in New York where his next solo exhibition will be in June, 2019. He is a winner of the 2017/2018 Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, and recent work he made while in Rome was presented in the exhibition Innamorato at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, in 2018. His 2013 exhibition Dialogue with Bolaño was presented at the Museum of Art of the Sonora in Hermosillo, Mexico, in 2014. His work has been included extensively in group shows since 1976. Detour, a compilation of  his photographs over a decade, was published by Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg in 2001.

He has been the curator of numerous exhibitions, including Darrel Ellis at Art in General, in 1996, and In This Place at Art in General in 2004. In Rome, in 2018, he curated two photo exhibitions at ACTA International, Illusione Persistente and Fuggenti Figure. He is an Adjunct Professor of Photography at Pratt Institute (MFA) and also teaches at the School of Visual Arts (BFA), and the International Center of Photography in New York. He graduated from Harvard University and grew up in Mississippi.

ACTA INTERNATIONAL

Direzione: Giovanna Pennacchi

dal martedì al sabato, ore 16 – 19,30

via Panisperna, 82/83

00184 Roma

tel 064742005

www.actainternational.it

info@actainternational.it