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Continued from Assignment 1 — Reflection at:  https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/assignment-1-reflection/

From 1983 – 1985 the photographer Anthony Hernandez (b. 1947) photographed shoppers on Rodeo Drive, the area of Los Angeles, California famous for its luxury-goods shops. A book of the photographs was published in 2012 (Hernandez, 2012), twenty-seven years after the project was completed. However, the book can still:

raise a question about the way that these images – so recognisably characterised by the vivid lustre and ostentatious venality of 1980s popular culture – might continue to inform our sense of our own contemporary consumer society, at a point so long after their creation, and in a moment of political and economic history that is at least superficially so distinct from their own (The Great Leap Forward, 2012).

Hernandez photographed in the ‘one place that summed up the bright, sunlit optimism and heady consumption of 1980s California: Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills’ (Booth, 2012).

These images are easily found and viewed at various sites on the internet (e.g. Booth, (2012); The Great Leap Sideways (2012)) and a ‘page-turn’ video is available (Anthony Hernandez // Rodeo Drive, 198, s.d). From the point of view of the Assignment there are two points about the work. Firstly that it was the first time that Hernandez decided to shoot in colour (Booth, 2012) because:

With its well-coiffed pedestrians, glass store fronts and air of luxury, the street made a sharp contrast to the gritty corners and desolate bus stops of working-class east Los Angeles that Hernandez had shot in black and white. (Booth, 2012)

Reading the above confirms my decision to use colour photography at least for the ‘shopper’ series of the Assignment. The upbeat atmosphere I was seeking to convey in the ‘shopper’ series is best achieved using colour.

The second point of note from the prospective of the Assignment is that on the street ‘for all its air of exclusivity, there are few vulgar displays of wealth – rather, a quieter sense of privilege mixed with a whiff of trying a bit too hard’ (Booth 2012). Hernandez manages to convey a sense of wealth, privilege and even excess without relying on photographing associated objects but relying on images of people alone. I had not considered this aspect in thinking about the Assignment.

Hernandez’s photographs are described thus on the publisher’s web site:

The subjects appear caught unaware, glancing up as they walk, or daydreaming as they wait to be served in its commercial landscape of shops and restaurants. Anthony Hernandez poses as a dispassionate observer, recording the big hair, wide shoulders and cinched waists of the 1980’s in sunlit photographs.

Hernandez does not simply document the urban experience, but reveals in his images the complexity of social spaces, implying economic disparity and racial divide. Layers of socio-economic tension are exposed on a street in an overt symbol of civic success; as Lewis Baltz observes, “these are the victors…enjoying the spoils of their victory on Rodeo Drive”. (Rugoff (s.d)

See also this blog at:

Assignment 1 — other photographers — David Levene
https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/assignment-1-other-photographers-david-levene/

Assignment 1 — other photographers — Polly Braden
https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/assignment-1-other-photographers-polly-braden/

References

Anthony Hernandez // Rodeo Drive, 1984 Pres. Haveanicebook (s.d) 2:47 mins At: https://vimeo.com/60781480 (Accessed on 18.09.14)

Booth, Hanna (2012) ‘Rodeo Drive, 1984, by Anthony Hernandez’ In: The Guardian [online] At:  http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2012/nov/30/big-picture-rodeo-drive-photography (Accessed on 18.09.14)

Hernandez, Anthony (2012) Rodeo Drive, 1984. London: MACK

Rugoff, Ralph (s.d) Anthony Hernandez Rodeo Drive, 1984 [online] At: http://www.mackbooks.co.uk/books/46-Rodeo-Drive-1984.html (Accessed on 18.09.14)

The Great Leap Sideways (2012) An Opened Eye: Anthony Hernandez’s “Rodeo Drive” [online blog] At: http://www.thegreatleapsideways.com/?ha_exhibit=an-opened-eye-anthony-hernandezs-rodeo-drive (Accessed on 18.09.14)

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