America in a Trance: Photographer explores the once prosperous Pennsylvania

in Inspiration / Photography

'The American Dream' is a phrase we've heard a lot of over the last century. Originally coined in the 1930s, its connotations underpin the national ethos that all Americans have the right to be free, prosperous and successful.

Though while some US states have done nothing but thrive, others have fallen foul of technological advancements and changes to the manufacturing industry. One such region, Pennsylvania, is described by local photographer, Niko J. Kallianiotis, as "a once prosperous and vibrant region where the notion of small town values and sustainable small businesses thrived under the sheltered wings of American Industry." In his eye-opening series America in a Trance, Kallianiotis explores the changes.

He explains: "A mode to promote American values, industrialism provided a place where immigrants from tattered European countries crossed the Atlantic for a better future. An immigrant and naturalised citizen myself, I had always perceived the U.S. differently, mostly from the big screen Hollywood experience and the adventures of 'Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man'.

Travelling across Pennsylvania, he imagines these towns as vibrant communities looking towards the hot stacks and brick factories; a past where prosperity was possible on the local scale, and the streets and storefronts were bustling.

"The bitter irony of towns once so self-sufficient, which contributed to the bottom line of American industrial empire lay in rust, turned into casinos, or simply left to go forgotten with the exception of the hearty locals that soldier on. They became prey to colossal franchise companies, which are accepted as the norm, providing them 'quality' goods and allowing no opportunities beyond minimal pay. Services for the residents are offered ubiquitously, but local employment, scant.

"This project is an ongoing observation of the fading American dream so typified in the northeastern Pennsylvania landscape but widespread across the United States."

See more of Niko's work at nikokallianiotis.com.

Close