Think of Las Vegas, and three things come to mind: casinos, Elvis impersonators and the city’s kitschy wedding chapels.
Some 120,000 weddings are performed in the Nevada capital every year, earning Las Vegas the unofficial title ‘ wedding capital of the world’. But even Sin City couldn’t escape the impact of the pandemic and was forced to temporarily shutter its venues to stop the spread of Covid-19 last year.
For her new show, For Better Or For Worse which opens at the Solaris Gallery in Hastings on 21 June, photographer Jane Hilton delved into her archive in order to reflect on the present. Hilton is exhibiting four large-scale photographs she took in the 1990s of empty Las Vegas’ empty wedding chapels for her series, Forever Starts Now, which assumes new significance in light of the pandemic.
The vacant chapels are drenched in nostalgia, captured over an eight-year period that saw the boom of the US wedding industry and the eve of 9/11 – when America’s pop-culture influence was at its most potent. But the haunting photographs speak to the present, too.
‘As well as yearning for the past and a questioning of the future, they feel slightly eerie, with a certain tension, disquietude and resounding silence,’ says Hilton of the four images she’s selected for this fresh outing. ‘A reflection of the last eighteen months driven by anxiety.’
‘For Better Or For Worse’ runs 21 June – 31 July 2021 at Solaris Gallery, 76 Norman Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex