For over a decade, the British-Canadian photographer Lorena Lohr has been travelling the American Southwest by bus and train, documenting the fleeting landscapes and the distinct character of the region’s built environment. Taking in everything from motels and bars to parking lots and patches of waste ground, her photographs capture unexpected and often uncanny aspects of the commonplace and mundane in the places she visits. Without ironic detachment or comment, Lohr identifies beauty and individuality in overlooked or neglected spaces that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Though she does not limit herself to any particular subject, Lohr’s wider body of work is characterised by recurring motifs: electrical wiring, colourful drinks and details of the bodywork of automobiles are just some of the hallmarks that stretch across her series and artist’s books. Language, as glimpsed in commercial signage, is another leitmotif of her photographs: generic phrases that evoke an exoticism at odds with their surroundings feature heavily, both contributing the visual richness of her compositions and hinting at hope, longing and isolation.
Working with 35mm colour film and a variety of inexpensive cameras, Lohr stays true to the DIY spirit that characterises much of what she chooses to photograph. To these ends she has created a number of limited edition artist’s books, the most recent of which are Texas Blue (2018), Bar Room Paintings (2019) and Blue Springs (2018), the last published with Rough Trade Books. Tonight Lounge, a comprehensive monograph of Lohr’s work in America over the last ten years, was published by Cob Gallery, London in December 2019.
Lohr’s work does not expressly seek to romanticise or glamourise, instead documenting the incidental layers of narrative that build up over time in the places she visits. Her photographs celebrate the idiosyncratic traces of people’s involvement on a given area, adding up to a form of alternative portraiture.
Lorena Lohr was born in 1990 in London, but after living in New York for five years from 2010, Lohr continues to travel frequently between the UK, Europe and the USA. Lohr has has maintained a self-taught photographic and handprint practice for over a decade and her debut solo gallery exhibition Ocean Sands took place at Cob Gallery in 2015. Since 2011, Lohr has often archived her photographic journeys as a number of limited edition artist books - including Texas Blue (2018), Bar Room Paintings (2019) and Blue Springs (2018), the last published with Rough Trade Books. Lohr regularly collaborates with writer Louise Benson (editor of Elephant magazine) on their triannual publication Scenic Views - a magazine which celebrates overlooked interiors. Lohr also provided images for the film projection for Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzales’ travelling multimedia show, Room 29 (2016-17). Lohr’s publications are stocked internationally with bookstores including Claire De Rouen, London, UK; Dashwood Books, New York, USA and Arcana Books, Los Angeles, USA.
Solo exhibitions include Tonight Lounge, Cob Gallery, London, UK (2019); Ocean Sands, Matches Fashion House, London, UK (2019); Photo London (solo booth), Cob Gallery, London, UK (2018); Lorena Lohr, Claire de Rouen Books, London, UK (2016) and Ocean Sands, Cob Gallery, London, UK (2015). Group exhibitions include Horizon Avenue, Photo Saint Germain, Paris, France (2019); A Shade of Pale curated by Carrie Scott, The Store x 180 Strand, London, UK (2018). Recent publications include Scenic Views Volume III, self published, London, UK (2021); Desert Nudes, self published, London, UK (2020); Tonight Lounge, published by Cob Gallery, London, UK (2019).