Los Angeles based photographer, Nick Rufo, takes his viewers on an intimate journey through his urban home. These photographs, however, do not explore the city as we presume to know it.
The viewer is not forced to question ‘Where are we?’ so much as ‘When are we?” in Rufo’s photographs? Is it the 1970s where classic cars strutted along the city’s streets? Are we in the dawn of the 1990s where Los Angeles seemed to survive off smog and the grit of the streets? Or is it simply last night? Reality seems to slip and shift as if in some type of temporal abnormality. He captures the world in a way that feels outdated, making the contemporary elements in each scene feel like a visual anachronism. Rufo captures the city’s ability to preserve a sense of timelessness, while the world and its inhabitants evolve around it; each image internalizing a longing for a familiar time.
The powerful sense of nostalgia is complemented by a profound sense of loneliness that resonates throughout Rufo’s series of works. Whether it be vacant cars from decades past, individuals caught entirely alone amongst the downtown setting, or portraits where the bodies and faces hint at an inherent sadness, each image possesses an uncanny quietness unimaginable in a booming metropolis. The sense of isolation is only compounded by Rufo’s intentional use of light. His strategic placement of figures situate his subjects in direct light while others completely silhouetted in shadows. The conscious choice to leave many of his subjects shrouded in darkness resonates with the isolating anonymity that often comes from life in a city, especially one such as Los Angeles where the every day is often overshadowed by the infamous celebrity culture. These two elements, the feeling of a bygone era and an intense isolationism, that prevail over Rufo’s photographs mirror one another; a disconnect from a sense of time matched by a disconnect from one another.