Over two years, UK based photographer, Brendan Barry, logged 22,000 miles driving back and forth across the US, photographing, among other things, empty motel rooms. In a collaboration with writer Jeff Parker, the series Clean Rooms, Low Rates is inspired by the history of motels in some of the greatest stories of all time.
There is nothing more mysterious than a TV set left on in an empty room. It is even stranger than a man talking to himself or a woman standing dreaming at her stove. It is as if another planet is communicating with you.
Clean Rooms, Low Rates is a collaborative, cross-genre exploration of the American motel. Standing at the intersection of economics, aesthetics, poetry, documentation, and fiction, Clean Rooms, Low Rates sheds light on the problematic character of seemingly ordinary things. By playfully and collaboratively immersing ourselves in a private-turned-public space, especially one as aesthetically charged and culturally specific as a motel room, we allow ourselves to experience and examine the myth of the American dream.
“Each day I get up at dawn and drive until dusk. I stop only to eat, fill up with gas, swim, climb, look, or photograph something, maybe someone. When the light of the day is gone, I drive on until I find a motel to rest for the night. For all the uncanny and bizarre sights I encounter on the road, these are the strangest places of all.
There is something inherently sad and lonely about a motel room. It is not the loneliness that may be felt isolated in a mountain cabin, miles from civilisation, but the loneliness of the city, surrounded by people, by the sounds of life, literally feet away from you, through the walls in the next room, rushing past on the highway outside. So many people before have shared these four walls, this bed, this television set with you, and so many more after will too. But this only seems to heighten the sense of isolation, for you will never meet them. You may occupy the same space, but never the same time”.
It was dark inside. He felt his way to the mattress on the floor, and he stretched out and cried in his bed, and the cars whizzing on the highway only strengthened the walls of his loneliness.
Brendan Barry is a photographer whose creative photographic practice combines elements of construction, education, performance and participation. His work is concerned with the notion of the journey and in the transformation of different objects and environments into spaces capable of viewing and capturing a photographic image, using the mechanics of photography as a tool for exploration and collaboration.
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