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LORENA  LOHR

 

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Strangeness and familiarity come together in the photographs of Canadian-British Lorena Lohr. Travelling around the American Southwest by train, Greyhound bus and on foot periodically since 2010, her journey through nameless streets and forgotten highways is documented in the ongoing series ‘Ocean Sands’. Fleeting landscapes and unexpected moments stand still as she passes through each new place, caught in her pictures of the bars, motels and suburban houses that she encounters. The experience of the unknown, together with the heightened sensations of both wonderment and fear that come with it, is embraced in Lohr’s focus on the neglected interiors and faded facades that populate much of America. By casting her lens on their overlooked details, she shows what it means to see even the most ubiquitous of spaces with unfamiliar eyes.

Lohr travels alone, and her pictures are – for the most part – devoid of people. Instead, an alternative portrait of the individuals who populate these spaces is built up through the traces that they leave behind. The chair recently vacated, the half-finished drink, the empty driveway or the back door left ajar. The more deliberate markers and signs that remain within a place also intrigue Lohr. Representations of palm trees, galloping horses, seashells, dramatic sunsets and birds of paradise appear on motel and cocktail bar fronts and painted wall murals, sun- bleached memorabilia, carpeted floors and furnishings. Recurring motifs in her study of the layered histories of vernacular space, they suggest at once the allure of the exotic and the sadness of unfulfilled dreams. An undercurrent of desire, aspiration and loneliness emerges, as fantasy and reality intermingle in her framing of surfaces and textures.

This escapism also characterises Lohr’s interest in language, and particularly the text used on signage. Shown isolated on blank streets and deserted corners, they are situated in contrast to the visions that such phrases as ‘Spice of Night’, ‘Casablanca Crystal Room’ and ‘Ocean Sands’ (from which Lohr’s photo series takes its title) aim to evoke. The phrases that fascinate Lohr are typically generic, simple in their wording and brash in their sentiment. Disconnected from the context of a specific time or place, they become representative of a more universal vocabulary of hope, longing and isolation as they appear and reappear throughout Lohr’s photographic work.

The influence of the written word is further apparent in Lohr’s self-published booklets, each titled with phrases taken from her journeys. Images are edited into sequence and placed within clearly defined collections, allowing for immediate visual connections to be drawn between them page-by-page. The act of self-publishing is also interrogated by Lohr as a method for distribution and discussion. From 2011 to 2013, she printed regular photo zines that were mailed to a list of subscribers from around the world. The personal presence of Lohr herself is important in these interactions; zines and individual prints are signed or stamped with lipstick, while booklets published since 2013 are given out by hand to friends and strangers alike. The distribution, like the initial production, of Lohr’s photographs is borne out of an immersive experience.

Working with 35mm colour film and a variety of compact and inexpensive cameras, Lohr upholds her interest in the DIY ethos that guides much of her work. Analogue C or Chromogenic prints produced by Lohr in the darkroom in limited editions extend this further, resulting in a sense of immediacy created as much in format as in subject. Her study of the interior life of place has recently continued in parts of Europe. By widening her focus beyond America, she emphasises the shared gestures of human relationships and solitude that invariably mark streets, bars and private homes. Together these images tell the passing tales of people and the spaces that they inhabit, embodying the frustration, romance, banality and optimism that they lay bare.

  

Louise Benson, gallery text for Claire de Rouen

 

 

EXHIBITIONS

   

2022, Domestic Evil III, group show, Soccer Club Club, Chicago, USA

2019-20 Tonight Lounge, solo show, Cob Gallery, London, UK

2019 Ocean Sands, solo show, Matches Fashion, 5 Carlos Place, London, UK

2019 Horizon Avenue, group show, Photo Saint Germain, Paris, France

2018 Photo London, London, UK

2018 A Shade of Pale, group show, The Store x 180 Strand, London, UK 

2016 Lorena Lohr, solo show, Claire de Rouen Books, London, UK

2015 Ocean Sands,  solo show at The Gallery, Liverpool, part of the International Photography Festival, Liverpool, UK

2015 Ocean Sands, solo show, Cob Gallery, London, UK 

2013 Photo Show, solo show, Rochelle School, London, UK

 

 

SELECTED PRESS 

Flaunt Magazine – Lorena Lohr: Shooting Impermanence – Interview, 2021

AnOther Magazine – The Best Art and Photography Books to Buy This Summer, 2021

AnOther Magazine, Lorena Lohr’s Enchanting, Evocative Desert Nudes Paintings, 2021

Self Service Magazine, Issue 54 – portfolio – print

W Magazine, Volume 1, 2021 – Best Performances, print

W Magazine, Volume 1, 2021 – Best Performances, online

Booooooom – Photographer Spotlight, Lorena Lohr

Vagabond City – Interview, 2020

The Brooklyn Rail, July – August 2020 – Book review of Tonight Lounge by Sarah Monoz

Wallpaper* – Photo Finish : The Photobooks Worth a Second Look

Elephant Magazine – Lorena Lohr’s Intimate Portraits of Memphis Reveal a Country in Transition 

AnOther Magazine, Lorena Lohr’s Beautiful Photographs of Memphis and the Midwest – Interview with text by Belle Hutton

The Week, review of the show Tonight Lounge, December 2019

AnOther Magazine – Introducing Scenic Views, the Interiors Magazine with a Difference, 2019

Photomonitor – Texas Blue reviewed by Edmée Lepercq, 2018

Wallpaper*- The 7 breakthrough artists to discover at Photo London 2018

SLEEK Magazine – 14 Stirring Snapshots to See at Photo London, 2018

AnOther , Lorena Lohr’s Hazy Photographs Documenting El Paso, Texas, feature, 2017

Fisheye Magazine – Lorena Lohr: Ocean Sands, 2017 

AnOther Man, editorial, Spring / Summer 2017 Issue

PRINT Issue 2

I-D, Lorena Lohr’s photography explores America’s sun-bleached South West, 2015

Newfound Journal – Lorena Lohr: Desert Moon

Dazed, 2015

Paper Journal: Lorena Lohr, 201

Hot and Cool, Issue 6 – Broadway Nights, feature, 2013

Hot and Cool, Issue 3 – feature