About This Project

Valerio Geraci


American Eden

I remember. I must have been 12 or 13 years old. One late summer evening at a second cousin’s house, she had just returned from a trip to California with her father and showed us the VHS she had filmed. She also brought small jars filled with sand and Pacific Ocean’s water. I asked her to lend me these video tapes. I spent hours looking at them in my house. Motels, Hawaiian weddings, conversations with Italian-American relatives. And the road. Plans of the road passing in front of the camera with the music on the radio and the wind blowing background. I watched mesmerized hours and hours on the road on TV. The photography was not yet the main part of my life but I thought that when I went to America, I would photograph everything. I was thinking exactly so. I remember summer afternoons by the sea at my grandmother’s listening to Simon & Garfunkel, John Denver, Take me home, country roads. I had bought a cheap California travel guide with an approximate map that I studied carefully. I remember the first time I listened to Don McLean’s American Pie. A road trip with my parents and sister. France or Austria, 14 or 15 years old. I always sat on the left. From the window my eyes could see the Tyrolean houses passing by with flowering geraniums on the balconies and green meadows in August. My mind saw the desert and the palm trees of California. I listened to Don McLean and dreamed of the regret of my life: a year of high school in the United States. I remember the nights with Steinbeck and Kerouac in high school and with Bukowski and the whiskey in college. The photographs of Dorothea Lange, Fandango and Paris, Texas. The first time I went to America, 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. 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. In 2013 I got my Master in Law and started to work for a British law firm. I was not happy with the life I was carrying on, it was not what I dreamt of. The day after I finished reading Steinbeck’s East of Eden, I found the strength to quit my job and decided to live as a photographer. I have been to America almost every year from 2016 to 2023. During these trips, my love for America remained the same as when I was a child, but it became more conscious and mature. I love America as one loves a person, aware of its beauty as well as its weaknesses and contradictions. American Eden is the result of these travels across the United States. I’m in search of the American dream and nostalgia for moments I’ve never experienced if not through music, cinema and photography, and their impact on my life since childhood. American Eden will be published by Urbanautica Institute.



7th edition