"Can you take me to the south?” The guy had two shrubs and a bottle of whiskey. I let him sit in the passenger seat and drove south on California Route 101"

Zen Foto Gallery is pleased to present "American Monuments" by Tetsuya Kusu from June 8 to 25.

Born in 1975, Tokyo-based Tetsuya Kusu has been photographing his journeys to the western​ regions of the United States and to Thailand after living a drifter's lifestyle for three and a half years. Facing the subjects in front of his lens, he shared their dignity, freedom, inanity and irrationality, and at the same time faced his own yearnings and aspirations.

In his photographs of "American Monuments", he has collected notable American portraits. Rather than showing us stereotypes of American culture, Kusu reveals to us various narratives of people encountered during his road trip at the end of 2014.

As a member of the last generation to adore America, I was struck by a desire to see the real America—so I got in a car and hit the road. There, within the vaguely nostalgic scenery I remembered, I found people who lived commonplace, dull, and unsurprising ordinary lives just like us. My stereotype of America changed and began manifesting itself to me with a strange sense of familiarity.

ーTetsuya Kusu

Many of the photographs are staged portraits, but they are vividly captured as if they are movie stills. "From where have I come, and where am I going?", Kusu questioned himself. Through the making of these portraits, Kusu documented his personal journey as well as the reality of American dreams.

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