The photographs in Subdivision follow Diego, Fernandez’s son, across the surface of the city. As we see him both isolated and together with friends, what emerges are not just the distinct spaces teenagers occupy, but also the particular atmosphere in which he thrives. “Crepuscular” comes to mind: a word signifying the unique light of the sky just after the sun sets. The term is sometimes used by zoologists to describe the particular creatures who emerge at this time of day, and in suburbia we have a name for such beings: teenagers. Throughout her career, Christina Fernandez has had a remarkable ability to capture communal and familial places that often have quite challenging light sources. Lavanderia (2002-2003) pictures the facades of laundromats, artificially lit from within; the landscapes of abandonment in Sereno (2006-2010); or, View from Here (2016-18) capturing spaces from their abandoned interior looking out. What recurs throughout this work is not just Fernandez’s skill in capturing the Southland’s light, but that such light expresses a sense of familiarity and inhabitance.
As with much of her previous work, Subdivision’s visual interlocutors present a compelling survey of modern depictions of American life – from Robert Adams’ Summer Nights (1974), perhaps the most emotive of New Topographics-era photography projects, to the SoCal landscape in the coming-of-age film Rebel without a Cause (1955). Against these precedents, Fernandez’s Subdivision charts an equally poignant picture of social connectedness, inevitable solitude, and self-discovery, against a backdrop of residences, infrastructure, and the accouterments of teen self-expression.