Dino Kužnik’s latest photo series Rubber, Metal & Glass shows an America built on dreams, but an America where those very same dreams are quickly abandoned for shinier ones.
Words and Photography by Dino Kužnik
Being born in the late 80s, just before my home country of Slovenia gained its independence, made me belong to a generation that encountered a very unique cultural and political clash of ideological beliefs. When I was growing up, the main goal was to become westernised and discard the socialist past—the desire to be global and make capitalism a success story had a definitive effect on our culture. American values and symbolism surrounded us in TV, movies, books, comics, cartoons, and music – values which inevitably came flooding in when we became a democratic republic.
So there is no surprise that when I moved to the US in 2013, I was immediately drawn to American symbolism as a subject to cast my lens on. My documentation of the so-called Americana started on the streets of San Francisco, where I discovered something that would completely encompass my artistic vision. The American car. It wasn’t just the design, but what it represented – the freedom, the open road, the limitless possibilities, and a bright future. This attracted me immensely.
Today I live in New York and have traveled and explored Nevada, New York, Oregon, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Louisiana, Florida, and California in search of these all American subjects. But as I’ve experienced more of the US, and I’ve grown and matured, so has my view. These road trips introduced me to vast graves of rotting metal, discarded rubber, abandoned gas stations, and towns that evoked a time past, a time forgotten. An overabundance of abandoned cars was more than apparent in cities, suburbs, and rural areas alike.
The facade I was presented with when growing up started to crumble, and I was beginning to see the real picture, and the effects of the idealised American lifestyle. My photographs started as a highly aestheticised portrayal of what I found most familiar, and slowly morphed into a documentation of the aggressive capitalist system, and it’s leftovers.
The utopian vision was shattered, leaving remnants of rubber, metal, and glass in my photos.