Christmas in America is not simply a matter of decorating Christmas trees. Entire streets are adorned with twinkling lamps, tree lighting and Santas. Americans spend billions of dollars on all this, year after year, in spite of the crisis. There is even fierce competition between some neighbourhoods. French photographer Laure Vasconi travelled to Los Angeles in order to capture this bizarre phenomenon on film. The resulting photographs illustrate a strange paradox. Vasconi's photographs from 2001, taken three months after the September 11 attacks, are sober compared with those taken ten years later, in 2011. In the context of ‘9/11', it appears that people now use Christmas decorations to enforce a kind of peaceful reality. When Vasconi went back to America for the second time, in 2011, what she saw was a cheerful and exuberant street scene. There are no guidelines for the decorations and so they are highly diverse in character, from a single Father Christmas to an entire fairy-tale world of reindeer, animals, elves, stars and snowmen. Chaotic or orderly, anything is possible.
Originally, the Netherlands did not take to this American phenomenon, with lavish Christmas decorations being limited to American districts such as Soesterberg, home of the former American air base. But over the last few years, decoration fever has also taken hold elsewhere in the Netherlands. In Den Ilp in North Holland, the houses and gardens look like parade floats, and entire Christmas ‘routes' are organised along homes decorated with thousands of fairy lights and other Christmas paraphernalia.
About Laure Vasconi
Laure Vasconi (1965) works and lives in Paris. She studied photography at the International Center of Photography in New York and works primarily for the press (les Inrockuptibles, Libération, and Le Monde) and theatres (Théâtre de l'Odéon, Théâtre de la Cité Internationale, L'Opéra de Paris and Comédie Française).