Shaped by the West
I cast my lens onto some of the most iconic emblems of the American West: the car, the road, the gas station and the most totemic of all, the landscape. The motivation behind my choice of subject matter is rooted in the westernization of my home country in the 1990s and the subsequent lack of national identification. At that time, the goal in Slovenia was to shed its socialist past and make capitalism a success story. This shifting atmosphere resulted in confusion over what was archetypically Slovenian and was felt most strongly by the young generation I was a part of. It was easier to identify with established, westernized realms, particularly in popular culture. Growing up with American imagery and values on TV, the American spirit was communicated to us through visually established symbols of the “world’s most powerful country”.
My relocation to California in 2013 further solidified my aesthetic. SBTW is, in fact, a personal and artistic exploration of the emblematic symbols of Americana from my youth in opposition to my adult identity. The prevailing narrative is centered around a nostalgic vision of the American dream from my childhood, contrasted with the reality of living in the US and applying for an artist visa. The iconic landscape in my work becomes a backdrop for an exploration of this unique cultural position within it. My photographs offer a highly aestheticized portrayal of what I find most familiar, in what is essentially an unknown landscape to me. This acts as a contrast to the conflict I feel in regard to my identity.
Photographing the familiar in the new speaks of a need for a utopian vision, while alluding to a generational sentiment of longing for an uncomplicated childhood in unpredictable times. Yet through the seemingly soft and innocent photographs, I aspire to convey the solitude of my position, depicted in the cracks of this idealized Americana.
Motivated by the influence of American culture and the westernization of my home country Slovenia, I now cast my lens onto the most iconic emblems of the American West.