I met photographer Gian Paul Lozza for the first time last week when he hung his stunning Homeland series on the skateboarding community at our gallery space at BBH. I hadn't seen the entire body of work before, and certainly had not seen the images together in an exhibition. I won't be forgetting them in a hurry.
The images capture a pristine skatepark shot at night using only ambient light. The resulting landscape images, shot using long exposures, are serene and surreal in equal measure. These landscapes are interspersed with a number of beautiful portraits, all captured in black and white, of the people who skateboard in the park. Each person stands proud, skateboard in hand, in front of Lozza’s camera.
Lozza has been working on this series for many years. The landscapes, illuminated by light sources we do not normally see, are mysterious. As Lozza puts it
The landscapes suggest imagined settings akin to a David Lynch film, locations in which tensions are heightened and the everyday can become fantastical. These could be mental images, or scenes from dreams where objects and places are divorced from a coherent context. Non-places onto which the future can be projected.
And while the landscapes are undoubtedly beautiful, it is the portraits that capture my attention more. Skateboarding is a sport that has always built strong communities connected through a shared experience in which other social differences have little or no relevance. Lozza’s subjects are united by this community and he portrays a group of guys at a moment 'rich with possibilities'.
While I mourned the lack of skater girls in this series, and hope this ongoing series will include them still, the guys are without question beautifully photographed, captured as they are at a moment where their dreams and hopes are yet to be realised. They stand confident and at peace, like they have finally found their place in a difficult world.
The limited edition Homeland book, all glorious 64 pages of it, is available signed and numbered, at the Hakuin publishing company. It also includes a limited edition print. Gian Paul Lozza is represented by Black Dog Represents.