Photo: Beach Weather, 2000.
Hailing from East Los Angeles, Gregory Bojorquez (b. 1972) began photographing the cycles of life and death as it unfolded before his very eyes, documenting the glorious and the grim realities as only an insider can. His sensitivity to beauty and strength infuses his photographs with an intense sense of the moment itself, the fleeting nature of existence—here today, gone tomorrow.
With his images, Bojorquez freezes time yet somehow you forget the picture isn’t moving. The impact is so immediate, so urgent, so intense that it becomes cinematic. You perceive a sense of before and after, of three dimensions collapsed into two. You smell the air and feel the sun on your face as a breeze sweeps you away. To put it bluntly, you caught the vapors, as Biz Markie would say.
“I don’t ever want to be called a street artist,” Bojorquez told LA Weekly in 2012. “I’m not a street person. I’m not bad. I take pictures. I feel more like the Ferris Bueller of the Eastside.”
It’s the perfect metaphor for his vantage point, reminding us that as outsiders, we benefit from someone in the know, someone who has walked the walk, talked the talk, and has photographs as proof. Bojorquez bears witness to his hometown in Frame Life, a new exhibition at Galerie Bene Taschen in Cologne, Germany, on view now through September 29, 2017.
Here Bojorquez combines scenes of East LA with life in Hollywood, where he lived for a period of time before returning to home, and in doing so brings together two worlds that rarely commingle with each other. They could not be more dissimilar and yet, Bojorquez is the thread that weaves in between, finding his way through these vibrant states of hyperreality.
His photographs are equal parts raw and sensual, lyrical allusions to the depths that exist just beneath the surfaces of the world. In a world of illusions where appearances are paramount, Bojorquez frames life as a many-splendored thing.
“What good art can do — it causes to make you wanna do more,” Bojorquez observes, allowing the stories of the people to unfold on film over a period of twenty years. Frame Life is a view from the inside as only a native could know, an homage to his hometown that is warm and wonderful, a story of family and community that underlies the flow of life that is sexy, sensational, and wild at heart.
All photos: © Gregory Bojorquez
Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.