The Great American Road Trip is a cultural phenomenon that is frequently depicted in film, literature and art. While Americana in pop culture usually is quite stereotyped and romanticized, the renowned American photographers such as William Eggleston, Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld, as well as to some extent the artist Edward Hopper, created a far more nuanced image of the iconic United States. It is a kind of Noir Americana with desert expanses, monumental loneliness and symbolic artifacts from a civilization in decline - a vision that today feels very timely .
I Dream A Highway by the photographer Rob Hann belongs to this particular artistic tradition. The images recreate the landscape’s boundless grandeur while life on a human scale cuts in and comes into focus, with its mundanity and humor. Human presence vs. nature can sometimes create comical moments that Rob Hann is a master at capturing. Funny road signs, mysterious objects like a gold painted tire, or a famous art installation located in the middle of nowhere - the particular in each subject receives universal meaning when set against the intangible greatness of the landscape, and by extension, of life itself.
Hann has worked for established magazines and newspapers such as the Times Magazine, Monocle and The Telegraph. He belongs to the generation of vagabonds who in their twenties became fascinated by Jack Kerouac and began to see their lives as an endless road trip. Born and raised on a farm near Stonehenge in Wiltshire , England , Robb Hann completed his formal education at 16 and went on a long journey through countries and professions. Prior to his current incarnation as a photographer, Hann worked as a factory worker and a fireman in England, then a bartender and maitre d' in Texas and New York, as well as a fashion model in Milan, Tokyo, Paris, London and New York.
When his photo career took off, Hann’s insightful portraits, usually of famous musicians and Hollywood actors, brought him success in the 1990’s. Today, however, his love of The Great American Road Trip has completely taken over and turned into an ongoing project, the highlights of which we now present at the gallery. Images have recently been included in a major book project titled Landmark: The Fields of Photography. The book is scheduled for release in 2014 at the publishing house of Thames and Hudson and is compiled by curator William Ewing, one of the world 's foremost authorities in photography.
In the book, Rob Hann presents his project as follows:
At the age of three I climbed through a hole in the garden fence and headed off on my tricycle to visit my grandmother's house a few miles away. It was my first road trip. Later in life I became a photographer and, in 2001, took my first solo road trip with my camera in the American west. I knew I'd found my subject. Since then I've moved to New York City and take to the American road whenever I get the chance. I'm not documenting the brutal creeping sprawl of corporate America. I'm seeking the magic that still exists in the spaces in between.