“The flamboyant and the crazy, the lost and the beautiful. In bikinis and uniforms and junk-shop costumery, they floated by on roller skates and dope and dreams…”
– Newtown Thornburg.
Venice Beach creates a dreamlike state for all who visit, and we are invited into this world through the photographs of Ambrose Benedict.
Taken within a three-month period, these photographs represent the edge of America, the last stop before the ocean. It is a place where the strange is the norm and the mundane is nowhere to be found.
This beachfront neighbourhood on the outskirts of Los Angeles is home to those with the biggest dreams; a place where freedom reigns and anything is possible.
Benedict documented his time here through the people he met in Venice. His connection to each individual, however fleeting, was immortalised within a single portrait. From albino pythons on a beach; to tattooed men; forever inked with the words ‘To live and die in L.A.’, each of these photographs gives a unique insight into the lifestyles of the strange and fabulous.
This body of work is a refreshing view of a place that is often portrayed as a sandy-beached tinsel town on the silver screen. Through unfamiliar eyes, Benedict has photographed these individuals in a way in which the fragility of human emotion becomes apparent.
Hidden amongst the eccentric performers and bronzed sunbathers crowding Venice Beach, hopeful wishes and broken dreams have been captured within each portrait. This series is a stripped back view of those who are trying to survive in this surreal environment.
In one image, a young woman is perched against cold grey concrete, in tattered jeans and mismatched shoes. She shares an expression of longing; caught in a far away thought as she gazes into nothingness.
Within another portrait, we are introduced to a striking 65-year-old man. His glowing orange skin contrasts against the beaming blue sky that surrounds his body. A single power line cuts the sky as he peacefully poses, the sun’s warmth bouncing off his chest.
Each photograph exposes the living and breathing entities of Venice. This place of freedom is home to these individuals. It is the place of building dreams and hoping they withstand the Venice Beach heat. Through this series we are invited to delve deeper into the lives of those who reside on the edge of suburbia; those who wish to ‘live and die in L.A.’
See more of Ambrose Benedict work here.