The rest areas were always my favorite parts of road trips. There was room to walk around and, somewhere, a vending area. I always got lost in the weird maps and wondered who used those curious barbecues. And so when I saw Nicolò Sertorios blissfully barren photo series, I wanted to hop in the car.
"Passages II: Rest Areas" is exactly what it sounds like. It's a bunch of pictures of rest areas. But they're emptier than I remembered them being. Of course, I've been hiding in cities for over a decade, driving on highways only to go to the airport where I'd fly to other cities. It's been a while since I shook the snack machine at a rest area in hopes that I might rattle a Snickers loose. Turns out people just stop at convenience stores for their Snickers bars now.
"Largely replaced by commercial gas stations and food chains, in combination with a decrease of private interstate vehicle traffic and state budgets, [rest areas] mostly sit abandoned and unused in varying states of decay," Sertorios writes in the introduction to the series. "Having lost their function they become all about form, the empty symmetries attempting to control nature, as per a bygone ideology seeking to conquer the terrain."
Okay, he gets a little heady there at the end, but Sertorios' point is clear. In the photos, you're left struggling to disconnect the derelict built environment from the desolate nature beneath it. The images are quietly transfixing. And it feels a little bit restless.
All images by Nicolò Sertorios