We came across the series Dreaming California by Los Angeles photographer Pej Behdarvand on the Dkrm Gallery list of past exhibitions. Rarely do we consider the Pacific Ocean at night, but lit but a luminous moon endless shades of black and grey emerge. A native Angeleno the large-scale oceanic landscapes felt inspired by the noire genre that defines the city of Angles- a dark and mysterious place where the facade of sunshine conceals the darkness that lies beneath.
Why did you decide to pursue your artistic practice on the West Coast?
It was not so much of a decision making process. I grew up here and felt very comfortable with my surroundings and the people in my life. I felt like I had everything that I needed here to pursue my work.
Why not New York?
I didn’t feel like it had much more to offer me than Los Angeles. I do commercial photography as well and almost all of my clients are in New York and they were happy to have a photographer they like based in Los Angeles. I think that if I would have relocated, I would have moved somewhere out of the country where I would experience more of a cultural shock. That idea still appeals to me. I love feeling like a foreigner and it would be wonderful to learn a new language and to be surrounded by different cultural influences.
What do you find distracting about your urban environment?
Trash and hipsters.
What do you feel is unique to your city?
The vastness of the landscape is wonderful here. The mountains are a beautiful backdrop to the city and provide a comfort to the feeling of anonymity.
What do you find most appealing about New York?
The connection to humanity. Walking in that city is like flipping through the pages of an August Sander book, but geared for America. One sees so many archetypes. There is the policeman, the construction worker, the millionaire, etc. … all these symbols, which we have seen so much in movies are so readily available on the sidewalks.
What artists have influenced your practice the most?
Nick Knight has influenced me greatly. It is not so much his work that has influenced me than his pioneering spirit in technical experimentation
All images from the series Dreaming California
Images courtesy of the artist
THE 20+20 PHOTOGRAPHY ISSUE
Pej Behdarvand is featured within Installation Magazine’s special 20+20 Photography Issue, which highlighted 20 Los Angeles and 20 New York City photographers. Download the full issue on your iPad and iPhone.