All the images in this work derive from wallpapers and screenshots taken by different users while playing Grand Theft Auto V —a videogame set in Los Santos, an “open-world” scenario that closely resembles Los Angels and its surroundings. Thus, the city of the Studios, of Hollywood and film industry, becomes itself a staged set and a virtual replica, a duplicate of its original.
This fake city, this double, may bring to mind Buthrotum, the citadel built by Troy’s exiles in the likeness of their destroyed hometown. And just like Buthrotum, Los Santos looks more like a remembrance than a copy. It is immediately familiar and recognizable, but at the same time vaguely odd and ambiguous. Pieces are missing, distances are altered, dimensions changed. Here, somehow and surprisingly, what Vittorio Sermonti wrote overall about the Aeneid is valid as well: “We must adopt the syntax of dreams, which absorbs [narrative] inconsistencies in a clear realism, meticulous, conflicting and tangibly unreal.” Is it possible to photograph such a virtual place? And what does it mean to do so? What light are we writing with? These and many other questions, some of them also concerning the topic of authorship, have been already faced by many artists. Nonetheless it’s a matter of investigation that continues to fascinate.
Finally, this work was meant as well as a tribute to a long series of great photographers who worked in Los Angeles widely throughout the second half of the past century. Even if it is mainly through cinema that the city of L.A. has become part of the collective imagination, however the influence of these artists can not be underestimated. With their own perspective, all of them contributed to create an idea and an image of the city that is still vivid and lasting.
Born in Rome in 1989, Leonardo Magrelli holds a BA in Design and Architecture from “La Sapienza” university in Rome. In 2010 starts collaborating in the organization of the International Rome’s Photography Festival, and with the photography publishing house Punctum Press. From 2014 starts focusing more and more on his own personal work. In the last years his works has been published in several printed and online photography magazines, and has been displayed in collective exhibitions and festivals. Since 2017 is part of the collective Vaste Programme together with Giulia Vigna and Alessandro Tini.