Shawn Bush, born 1987, is a photographer living and working in San Francisco. We are honored to be including this body in the printed version of Metropolis : Los Angeles. His work
tends to blend a certain amount of fiction with reality to create a one off world that
mimics aspects of pop culture and Americana. He focuses on the obscurities of everyday
life with subtle humor and lends itself to his inquisitive nature. Bush has been shown in galleries
in Chicago, Oakland, Grand Rapids and San Francisco. His debut artist book The Process of
Meaning and Worth is the recipient of the Manifest Gold Book award and is apart of the
Museum of Contemporary Photography’s permanent collection.
A Golden State takes an inquisitive approach to the perception of California as a state of
perfection. Pop-culture helps create a utopian ideal of the state and regurgitates its image as the
glorified scenic backdrop for America. A journey through the state finds a different reality those
depicted in television shows, magazines and films. The vast expanse that lies within its
boundaries reveals that the state it isn’t only palm trees, sunsets and movie stars while exposing
the void that man has with his natural environment.
Coming to California was not something that I had planned. I was offered a photo editor job at a
skateboard manufacture and took the opportunity to move from Chicago to San Francisco and make new work. Moving from one metropolis to another was not as easy as expected. Arriving in San Francisco my rent was 2.5x the rent in Chicago and regardless of cost of living I was being paid the same amount as I was in Chicago. The days of going out were swiftly gone. Not only that but every contact/family member/friend I ever knew was across the country. This sort of social isolation led me to think about the place I live, why I am there and what being a Californian means in context to modern American society and culture.
Being a non-native Californian I was instantly intrigued by the culture, landscape and diversity in
climates that I had only previously experienced in magazines, television and movies. This
fascination led to lots and lots of trips across the state. Some trips were spent living out of my car and photographing for weeks on end while others were simply holiday trips with my wife and dog. The reasoning for every trip was the same though – a desire to explore the state in order to try to understand it.
Not every image in the series is from Los Angeles or LA county but they all represent the ideology
that the region stands for. While shooting this project over the past 4 years I have found myself time
and time again driving south through the vast expanses of land to LA to make pictures. Los Angles
seems to embody many of the perceptions of what people think of Californians and the place they
have in society and that is something I like to highlight and play with.
To view more of Shawn’s work, please visit his website.