In the summer of 2006, photographer Ramak Fazel set out on a road trip across the 50 US states. Beginning in his hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Fazel toured America with the purpose of photographically documenting the capitol building of each state and the everyday lives of the people in and around it. In a third-hand conversion van, used both as a travelling home and studio, he visited 49 of the state capitals over a three-month period (the self-funded budget for the trip didn’t stretch far enough to include the last state, Alaska). Equipped with a stamp collection from his childhood, at each stop Fazel prepared a handmade postcard, which he then mailed to himself at the general post office of his next destination, thus putting the dated postage collection to use to become part of a future set of postcards.
A third of the way through his trip, Fazel, a U.S. citizen, was detained and mirandized, and his personal life was extensively investigated (Fazel was born in Tehran, Iran, and currently lives in Milan, Italy). He was released and continued his journey, but from then on his observations of everyday America occurred in the context of continuous police interrogation and FBI surveillance.
Over the course of the trip, Fazel covered a total of 17,345 miles and spent 78 days on the road. In his photographs, the capitol buildings are shown contextually, their views interrupted by vehicles, trees, and power lines, thus becoming a key entry point into the lives of the surrounding communities. The entire narrative of his journey, presented in the exhibition through through photographs, postcards, documents and memorabilia, offers an individual and profoundly insightful vision of contemporary America. The exhibition at Storefront will be the first exhibition in the US of the work resulting from Fazel’s trip.