Indirectly and directly, the American highway has twice been a subject of this blog. First, through the motels of Ed Freeman (October 7, 2016) and second, in the coverage of Route 66 by Teresa Zafón (November 30, 2016).
Christina Storozkova, a photographer living in Oakland, California, sheds some more light on the topic. “In America, the highway is a symbol of freedom,” she says. “It’s a place where people leave the comfort and safety of home behind. It’s a concrete path to follow for those who are searching for something better.”
In her series “Highway Oases”, Christina beautifully captures gas stations – mostly old, abandoned ones. The places are unpeopled, with sparse vegetation. The sky is always a clear blue and the sun, glaring hot. There is something rather poignant about these stops. They are no one’s homes, they have never been. And yet who would reach their desired destinations if it wasn’t for these providers of fuel?
“This was one of my favourite works to make because I got to relive a bit of American history,” Christina continues. “Many of the American highways follow the wagon trails established by pioneers, pilgrims or refugees. When the automobile was invented in the early 20th century, highways had to be built to accommodate all the new drivers. Businesses such as motels, restaurants and gas stations sprung up to service the weary travellers. It wasn’t until after World War II that Americans really fell in love with cars and driving. The 1950s were a time of peace, prosperity and unbridled consumerism. I’m really fascinated with that period in American history.”
Christina graduated from the University of Florida in 2012 and attended the Southeast Center for Photographic Studies in Daytona Beach in 2013. When she’s not on the road, you will find her riding horses, shooting guns or collecting wine. Her clients include CMYK Magazine, Maxim, Huffington Post and Habitat for Humanity.
She is a “Perestroika” baby, who was allowed to be fascinated by American culture all the way from Russia largely through Hollywood movies and pop music videos. Christina writes on her experiences: “With a mind already primed for propaganda, I had no hesitation accepting the fantasy, unaware that America not only tolerates propagation of this dream but that its entire economy is dependent upon it. Little did I realise that the American Dream had long been dead if it ever existed at all. In 1996, the zombie capitalist playground known as Central Florida became my home. I was welcomed by strip malls, convenience stores, fast food establishments, family friendly chain restaurants, and gas stations where 24 hours a day I was free to buy a T-shirt that said ‘GOD DON’T MAKE NO TRASH.'”
Links: Website (www.christinastorozkova.com) | Saatchi Art (www.saatchiart.com/cstorozkova) | Instagram (www.instagram.com/stetson_drifter)
Images used with permission.