Riviera documents the eerie fragments of existence left behind in one city. John Brian King photographed Riviera from 2016 to 2018 in Palm Springs, California, and its surroundings; a full-time resident at the time, he used a cheap instant film camera to give his photographs a unique, washed-out, hazy aesthetic.
King depicts a city that is frozen in a visually arresting state of decline, cataloguing the totems of an absurd civilization.
I wanted to photograph the Palm Springs that I lived in and interacted with every single day, the beautiful, the mundane, the ugly, the hot desolate nature of Coachella Valley. I wasn’t interested in the tourism-board view of Palm Springs, of martinis by the swimming pool and candy-colored, Instagram-ready desert art installations. I was interested in the debris – architectural and natural – left behind by generations of people who lived in or visited Palm Springs to escape, to exist, to die.
John Brian King is a photographer, filmmaker, designer, and writer. His two previous photography books – LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles, 1980–84 and Nude Reagan – were also published by Spurl Editions. His photography has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Slate, Buzzfeed, Lenscratch, Amadeus, Flavorwire, AnOther, WeHeart, L’OEil de la Photographie, Impose, KCET’s Artbound, and Yet Magazine.
Spurl Editions is an independent publisher of unusual literature and photography. They began publishing in 2015 and have put out French and Italian literature in translation, surreal Hollywood memoirs, radical political writing, and more. They love the eccentric, the unexpected, the seedy, and the absurd.