You know what its like to get bit by the travel bug? That itch at each next block, new sound, lost landmark. That sensation of exploration then immersion that calls you to re-examine reality? So does Brett Amory.
His latest exhibition Twenty-Four In London opens its doors at Lazarides Gallery and invites patrons to explore with fresh eyes the city they call home. London is the third city that Amory has deconstructed from the inside out. The idea is both simple and uniquely complex: spend an entire month in a new city, explore local landmarks, identify just 24 locations and assign them an hour in the day, then relentlessly document the locations at that time via video, digital photos, and oil paintings.
The concept for 24 emerged from Amory’s popular series Waiting—daily, digital observations of his Bay Area hometown which embraced the re-occurring theme of solitude among expansive negative space. Now, 24 keeps Amory on the move, tapping his social network to connect with locals in new cities and dive head first into the subtleties of their urban culture.
“I rent a bike, get a train pass, and explore,” explains Amory. “I stay in each city for a month and get to know people, hunting for locations that aren’t always touristy but represent iconic landmarks for locals. Those spots that you know about a place if you live there.”
Last year found Amory stalking the streets of NYC, navigating neighborhoods and capturing commonplace moments to unlock their quiet mystique. He admits it was challenging to document the NYC boroughs for its tight-knit local community. But the feedback he got from his audience was inspiring.
“People would tell me, ‘I grew up in this neighborhood but never noticed this’ or ‘I used to eat at that restaurant as a kid,” Amory recounts. “The viewer takes in more and connects emotionally to the experience through the use of video, photos and found objects. The sandpaper I found at Coney Island, an artifact of the repair being done in the wake of hurricane Sandy, says a lot to a local audience.”
In London, he spent 16 hours each day working. He identified more than twice as many places as he needed and documented them through iphone photos, scouring the scene for found objects, and diligently taking notes. Amory has taken this latest exhibition a step further—recreating certain landmarks, like the London newsstand comprised of a 7 by 8 foot painting under an awning, which gives one the sensation of walking into the art.
A painting of a mother walking her children home from school marks hour 3 to 4 pm, while a lonely London bird quietly waits for her stop on the Tube, between hour 7 to 8 pm, in a little black dress and flats. The 24 paintings, which each represent one hour from midnight to midnight, don’t take viewers on a chronological journey through one day in London, as much as they take us through everyone’s journey every day, simultaneously.
Multimedia installations also highlight the natural tension of city life, the pull of hurrying then waiting within a bustling community. The exhibition features 24 TVs stacked vertically—a “totem pole of TVs” as Amory explains—each showcasing footage from the locations he’s identified.
“I’ve always wanted to document other places and this is the best way of doing it,” Amory says. “It forces me to document the shit out of every place I visit, taking in as much as I can. It’s me who is the outsider. And while one month isn’t long enough to properly document a city like London, this show is really for Londoners. It’s my translation of their place, their city.”
Up next for Amory in the 24 series is Los Angeles, which is good news for us locals that call it home. As the irrepressible travel bug continues to sink its teeth into Amory, just keep an eye out. He may be coming to a city near you.
MORE BRETT AMORY STUDIO VISIT PHOTOGRAPHS BY MICHAEL CUFFE BELOW: