Venice Beach is a throwback to simpler, gentler times. A cultural icon, Venice is the birthplace of modern skateboarding. Arnold Schwarzenegger pumped iron there in the 1960s and Jim Morrison, between sleeping on a rooftop behind the boardwalk, wrote the lyrics to some of The Doors most popular songs. Conversely, Venice is the 2nd largest tourist attraction in Southern California after Disneyland. Gentrification and corporations threaten the way of life that has defined the beach town for decades. Snapchat’s expanding office closed down the Venice Beach Freakshow in 2017. The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment has reached $5,000.
Knowing the beach’s unconventional denizens are starting to move away in search of affordable housing, Los Angeles based photographer Dotan Saguy has spent the past three years documenting the culture, people and pageantry of Venice Beach.
The resulting photographs are published in Venice Beach: The Last Days Of A Bohemian Paradise, a joyful celebration of a free-spirited way of life that for Saguy is a striking contrast to Los Angeles’s sometimes homogenized, celebrity driven culture. Photographer and founder of Lenscratch, Aline Smithson, writes, “Dotan’s photographs reveal layered seeing, curiosity and compassion, and split-second instincts that result in a visual feast leaving us hungry for more.
Venice Beach will be released on August 7 coinciding with an accompanying exhibition at the Venice Arts Gallery. Many of those Saguy photographed will be in attendance to celebrate the publication of a book that is deeply personal to them.
It is Saguy’s hope that the work will bring awareness to the issues jeopardizing the existence of this this idiosyncratic landmark.
Exhibition August 11 – September 12, 2018
Dotan Saguy: Street Photography on Venice Beach
The Surfers of New York and New Jersey
Joel Meyerowitz On What He Learned About Street Photography From Garry Winogrand (for PDN subscribers; login required)