LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980-84

LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980–84 is a photography book comprised of two series of black-and-white images of a metropolis that has now vanished.

In the first series, “LAX” (62 photos, 35mm black-and-white film), photographer John Brian King engaged in street-style photography in one of the city’s most charged places: Los Angeles International Airport. Harried travelers, uniformed employees, and vacationers appear angered by the flash of King’s camera, too bored to care, or all-too-confident in this post-industrial setting. King’s series would be impossible today, as it exposes the uncomfortable chaos of airport existence before an era of obligatory surveillance.

In the second series, “LA” (55 photos, 6x7cm black-and-white film), King photographed a city at night devoid of people. The photographs have an evidentiary quality: bizarre debris are framed in the center, isolated by a high-intensity flash. King captured these artifacts – from Sunset Strip nightclub posters to archaic ATMs to beautiful Hollywood Art Deco statues – with a blunt, direct aesthetic.

The black-and-white film negatives of LAX remained in a box for thirty years; they have now reemerged as the unsettling traces of 1980s Los Angeles.

Available November 2, 2015, from spurleditions.com

jacob mcclure