“She dislikes the abnormal, it is so obvious,” Gertrude Stein wrote—of her own tastes—in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. “The normal is so much more simply complicated and interesting.” This too could be ascribed to Lorena Lohr, whose book of photographs, Tonight Lounge (published by London-based Cob Gallery), showcases snippets of what one might call the normal, or at least the ordinary. The British-Canadian photographer traveled through various American states and documented glimpses of small towns using 35mm color film and assorted cheap cameras. She captured ramshackle bars, shabby motels, decaying façades, and dejected residences, all a part of her ongoing series, “Ocean Sands,” began in 2010, featuring a mix of blurry natural vistas and flash-lit interiors. Unlike a travelogue or a visual diary, the vignettes seem—as writer Louise Benson expressed in the introductory text—“connected to no landscape, an adrift and neglected America.” The images are untitled, although a visual key in the back parenthetically adds varying local specificity (Memphis; Algiers, Louisiana; Stanton Street, El Paso; Cut Bank, Montana). These geographical cues aside, a feeling of placelessness prevails. Lohr’s gaze doesn’t seem to hinge on locus despite her regional approach: rather, she turns tangible terrain into an existential tableau. The series loosely evokes the aesthetic of 1970s Stephen Shore, both through the portfolio’s softened palette and in the perspicacity of finding odd beauty in the seemingly prosaic.
Lorena Lohr’s Tonight Lounge This book of photographs showcases snippets of what one might call the normal, or at least
Sarah Moroz, The Brooklyn Rail, July 22, 2020