For nearly 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. After living in New York for five years from 2010, she now is based loosely between the two, travelling within North America and parts of Europe. She has maintained a self-taught practice for ten years. Her work has appeared in Another Man, i-D and Hot and Cool, amongst other publications. Since 2011 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. Past shows have included A Shade of Pale, The Store x, 180 Strand (May 15th – June 3rd, 2018) and Texas Blue at Photo London 2018 with the Cob Gallery. Past solo exhibitions have included Ocean Sands at the Liverpool International Photography Festival (May-June 2015), the Cob Gallery, London (February-March 2015) Photo Show at the Rochelle School, London (December 2013), as well as a showcase of her work at Claire de Rouen Books in London (August-October 2016). She also provided images for the film projection for Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzales’ travelling multimedia show, Room 29 (2016-17). She is currently launching the publication Scenic Views with writer Louise Benson – a different kind of interiors magazine focusing on overlooked, everyday places.