No Love Here

By Jo Phillips

Jane Hilton’s coffee-table books and portraits have featured in many of the world’s publications, galleries and art fairs. Her visual odyssey encompasses a modern folkloric Americana comprising communities of cowboys, working girls, burlesque dancers, drag queens, gun club members and circus folk. Find out more in No Love Here

While Hilton’s lens has traditionally rested on subjects whose American Dream is not always within reach, for her forthcoming show, her subjects are not subcultures but a series
of vacant wedding altars photographed in Nevada in the 90s.

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In 2020 Hilton was on a shoot in Nevada, persuading drag queens to be photographed when Covid struck, shooing her home
to her family in London. All was not lost. The project, though cut short would later make it to the finals of the 2021 Sony World Photography Awards. As the world grappled with an invisible deadly enemy, closing down shops, schools putting half of humanity under lockdown, Hilton, along with the rest of the world thought ‘what next?”

Solaris gallery invited Hilton to exhibit a series of her work that would resonate with modern times, she and gallerist and curator Alexandra Drawbridge rested on a series of haunting, cinematic photos of alienation and eerie quietude. Visitors entering the gallery will experience an arresting quartet of large-scale photographs). Taken on a plate camera in the 90s to her, the altars encapsulate the exuberance of that era and the melancholia of the present.

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“This show feels appropriate right now”, says Hilton by way of explanation. She was in Las Vegas, photographing over 100 couples who were tying the knot and was fascinated by the stand-alone chapels inside some of the casinos that existed downtown on the strip. “When I photographed these Wedding Chapels in the ’90s, the industry was booming,” she explains.

I was excited by how kitsch the chapel interiors were and how they epitomised a sense of fun and amusement in this McDonald’s style wedding culture.”

“American Culture has been through a massive lobectomy in the last few years and the American Dream is fighting for survival. With massive corporations having more power than the President, the fallout in communities resonates. Standing in front of these altars looking at the heart of this culture, becomes more provocative.” Hilton concludes, “As well as yearning for the past and a questioning of the future, they feel slightly eerie, with a certain tension, disquietude and resounding silence. A reflection of the last eighteen months driven by anxiety.”

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Jane Hilton lives and works in London and has exhibited internationally. She was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society in 2014 and most recently chosen as one of the Hundred Heroines representing internationally the most inspirational women in Photography today.

With No Love Here, only time will tell if these chapels of love really do find a second life once covid is well and truly gone.

Solaris,
76 Norman Rd, Saint Leonards-on- sea TN38 0EJ, 19th June – 31st July 2021 solarisprint.co.uk. If you enjoyed No Love Here then why not read Father Love Here.