In 2010 we got hold of a copy of ‘Dead Eagle Trail’, a photographic documentation of America’s 21st century cowboys. It remains one of our favourite photobooks and we’re delighted to say that the photographer behind it, Jane Hilton, is coming to Brighton to give a free talk on her work and screen one of her documentaries produced with the BBC.
Monday 23rd March. Doors at 6pm, kicks off at 7pm. Free Entry at The Old Market, Brighton. Free Entry.
Jane Hilton, photographer and filmmaker lives in London. She started out as a classical musician, graduating in 1984 with a BA (Hons) in Music and Visual Art from Lancaster University. Her love of photography brought her to London, working as an assistant for numerous fashion and advertising photographers, before going it alone in 1988. Early work included both fashion and editorial alongside her documentary projects, which is the mainstay and passion of her work today.
“My work is about the extraordinary realities of ordinary people’s everyday lives, revealing their individual characteristics and ways of being that one so often overlooks.”
It was on her first trip to Arizona in 1988, that she discovered an obsession for America and American culture. The contradictions in American society and the American dream is a recurring theme. Her work in Las Vegas is the epitome of this, where the line between fantasy and reality is constantly blurred. The transient nature of Vegas mixed with the incessant gambling philosophy provides a unique breeding ground for characters who live out these contradictions. Her series “Forever Starts Now” on the McDonald’s style wedding culture illustrates this.
From proclamations of everlasting happiness in Vegas, Jane hit the empty desert roads of Nevada ending up 350 miles away near Reno, where a roadside brothel called ‘Madam Kitty’s Cathouse’ caught her eye. This chance encounter became a two year project and resulted in a ten-part documentary series for the BBC, “The Brothel / Love For Sale”, as well as a series of exhibitions on desert landscapes, pimps and prostitutes.
Inspired by a commission in 2006 to photograph a 17 year old cowboy, Jeremiah Karsten, who travelled 4,000 miles on horseback from his native Alaska to Mexico, Jane set off on her own four year pilgrimage, criss crossing the cowboy states of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Texas, New Mexico and Wyoming to capture America’s 21st century cowboys which culminated in her 2010 book – “Dead Eagle Trail”.
For her latest book Jane has returned to the brothels of Nevada. “Precious” is a collection of intimate nude portraits of working girls from the only state in America where prostitution is legal. The women are all from different cultural backgrounds and the variety of ages and body shapes represented challenge the traditional idea of beauty. Jane was privileged to stay in many of the brothels during this project and the trust and friendship this engendered is clear in the portraits.