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Dreaming (California and Beyond): High End, Low End, No End in Sight

Susan Ressler | Southern California, United States

Forthcoming Monograph Cover with book title, "Dreaming California." Image title: "Shell Game," Los Angeles, CA 2022: this photograph depicts late night talk show host John Oliver throwing up his hands in despair and disbelief while the globe smokes and burns. Made in Los Angeles in March 2022, when the price of gasoline hit an all-time high of $7 per gallon.

A selection from a forthcoming monograph titled "Dreaming California:  High End, Low End, No End in Sight" (Daylight, 2023), these photographs provide a trenchant look at contemporary America and the issues that plague us today. 

As in my 2018 monograph published by Daylight Books on corporate America titled "Executive Order," I focus on wealth, power, privilege and social inequity.  Using Los Angeles as a kind of launching pad to leverage these ideas, I portray racial disparity, gender tension, the homeless, the wealthy, the glamor and the glitz. I've always felt one can see the future before it happens in LA, and that in the "Golden State" our aspirations, fantasies and foibles are especially visible. Using heightened color and composition to accentuate "hyperreality," I explore what I call the "sets, scenes, signs and shops" that illuminate our contemporary world. 



Set mostly in the LA metro area, but stretching as far south as San Diego, the photographs in "Dreaming California" lay out ideas culled from more than 10 years (2010 - 2022) of images. Via sets, scenes, signs, shops, and various "hoods," I explore not only the "real" estate and nitty gritty of Los Angeles, but a broader swath of rich terrain that references America and beyond. From High End to Low End, clearly there is No End in sight.

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