America

A STORY BY VALERIO GERACI

 Badlands, South Dakota

Hi, I am Valerio and I am 30 years old. I am from Palermo (Italy) and I live in Paris, France.

America is an ongoing project I am carrying on since 2011.

America is a passion that goes back to when I was a child. When I was 8 or 9 years old I was already a victim of the so-called “American soft power“. I loved American movies, comics and music and I was dreaming to travel through this country from big cities to uncontaminated nature. When I was 12 or 13 I bought my first photographic book about the US. I was fascinated by the photos of never-ending landscapes and of the roads crossing them. Throughout the high school years, I fell in love with American writers as Steinbeck and Kerouac and songwriters as Don McLean and Simon and Garfunkel.

The first time I went, I was still a law student, I saved some money and hit the road with my Pauline. We camped, slept in the car and cheap motels, living the trip hour by hour. We got lost into the flow of the towns and endless sky of the American Southwest from Texas to California. I remember the Death Valley at night, the living silence around us. That first trip was like a dream come true.

 US-385 / Hwy 385, Chadron, Nebraska
 Regal Motel, Las Vegas, New Mexico

Time passed by, a lots of things changed. In 2013 I got my Master in Law and started to work for a British law firm. The next year, I decided to give up my career in law and follow my dream to live as a photographer. In 2016, I asked my father to come in the US with me and my third-hand Mamiya 7. We drove a lot, from Colorado to the golden Great Plains of Wyoming and to California again, through the mystic sunrise of the Monument Valley. We discovered the stories of Wounded Knee, Crazy Horse, Black Shawl, Sitting Bull and Custer.

When I went back to Europe, I couldn’t help but thinking to be back on the road again. The beauty of the sunsets on the road was constantly on my mind and Springsteen and Waylon Jennings always on my ears.

I went back to America in 2017 and 2018, once with my dad, my cousin and also alone. I crossed many different states : Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee, Montana just to name a few. During those trips, I always try to avoid big cities and Interstates. I prefer to drive slowly on backroads stopping on small towns where I think it’s easier to talk to people. I have been hosted by a family in Nebraska where I felt like home and I miss them a lot.
I could spend months driving in the Unites States, the landscape slowly changing next to me. Since the first trip, I trace on a map the itinerary I am taking, as long as I drive. I like to do it because the lines are nothing compared to what there is left to see. I can’t help but going back. I think it will never stop. I picture myself with Pauline when we will be in our 80s. Driving to the west with the sun in our eyes, stopping to take a photograph and smoke.

 Monument Valley, Utah
 Smokey's, Las Vegas, New Mexico
valeriogeraci_06.jpg
 Death Valley National Park, California
 Van Tossel Road, Torrington, WY
 Check Inn Motel, Lamar, Colorado
valeriogeraci_01.jpg

All images © Valerio Geraci
Text by Valerio Geraci