Before Wes Anderson’s spa town auberge The Grand Budapest Hotel there was Jason Fulford’s equally fictitious Hotel Oracle, made manifest in last year’s eponymous book. This summer, a series taken from the cerebral yet playful photographer's project is exhibited alongside Viviane Sassen in a group show at San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery. Inspired by the symbolism of Greek mythology during a trip to Crete (namely the cave where Zeus was born), the collection zooms in on dreamy objects and quotidian scenes captured in far-flung locations such as the Czech Republic, South Korea and Japan. “A photograph is pretty ambiguous. It changes or is given meaning based on what you put around it, and if you know the story,” explains Fulford, a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow. Recounting one of the most extraordinary experiences during his odyssey, he says: “I met a real-life oracle in Bermuda. He had a waterfall you could turn on and off with a switch, underground tunnels, and an impressive track record for predicting the future.” A cult figure in the indie publishing world for books such as Raising Frogs for $ $ $ and The Mushroom Collector, here the East Coast native shares his summer reading list and his favorite (non-fictional) hotel.
What do you think the Ancient Greeks would go for in our modern world?
Jason Fulford: The British Museum.
What's your favorite hotel?
JF: Maybe the Hotel Congress in Tucson, Arizona. The phones in the rooms are still hardwired down to the front desk, and they are furnished in my fantasy old-fashioned hotel room style––just a bed, desk and dresser. Also the YMCA in Calcutta, India. They play badminton in the lobby.
What is your soundtrack this summer?
JF: Gyrate Plus by Pylon
Back Porch Hillbilly Blues by Henry Flynt
Kenwicked by Street Gnar
IV by Jib Kidder
Bend Sinister by The Fall
Double Nickels on the Dime by Minutemen
“Fire / Mission Impossible” by Lizzy Mercier Descloux
And your summer reading list?
JF: I’m on a “madness” streak, so:
A Schoolboy’s Diary and Other Stories by Robert Walser
The Dalkey Archive by Flann O’Brien
Sanity, Madness and the Family by R.D. Laing and Aaron Esterson
Wittgenstein’s Nephew by Thomas Bernhard
The Inmates by John Cowper Powys
Actual Air by David Berman
Hotel Oracle is on show until August 23 at Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.