The Reality of Artificiality: Photographs of Celebrities Driving

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When we think of celebrities driving, the mind jumps to Lindsay Lohan coating her lips with gloss – or perhaps to Ryan Gosling’s reticent character in Drive, for whom driving is a performance of life, his identity. Photographer Michael Butler’s provocative series Rodeo Drive (which we discovered at Lenscraft) calls upon the celebrity driver to incite questions of public and private, with the car cruising both these spaces at once.

There’s a Page Six feel intrinsic to Butler’s photos – we might mistake their photographer for a paparazzo – and yet we don’t observe these photos to squeeze facets of juicy gossip from them. In this case, to look is to intrude, but what we observe is merely the semblance of reality; a public performance of private life, as the driver interacts with society from a remove. Butler likens the task of looking at these photos to “peeling off the layers to find the image underneath.” As his subjects peer at the world from their oversize sunglasses or light up a cigarette, their faux smiles and nonchalant pouts speak of unspeakable sadness, sheer boredom. As Butler has observed, “The drama of life can be full of poignant junctures… you can see humanity and vulnerability through the glimpse of a private moment.” There’s some truth to be found at the crossroads.

Photo Credit: Michael Butler

Photo Credit: Michael Butler

Photo Credit: Michael Butler

Photo Credit: Michael Butler

Photo Credit: Michael Butler

Photo Credit: Michael Butler

Photo Credit: Michael Butler

Photo Credit: Michael Butler

Photo Credit: Michael Butler

Photo Credit: Michael Butler

Photo Credit: Michael Butler