Vans and the Places Where They Were documents surviving custom and conversion vans across the West and examines the dialogue which exists between a van’s design aesthetic and that of its surrounding environment. The project began in 1996 and currently consists of hundreds of images shot on 120 film.
Over the course of the project the vans themselves have become more and more of a rarity. The reasons are as simple as rust and changing tastes; and as complex as government “cash for clunkers” initiatives encouraging more fuel-efficient transportation. Notably, at the same time these vans have been disappearing from our roads – film photography as a visual medium has also begun it’s slow death.
Consequently the goal of the project is to one day shoot the last remaining van on the final frame of photographic film in existence. Then the project will be finished.
Joe Stevens is a filmmaker and photographer living in New York. His work has appeared in the Hammer Museum and the Museum of Modern Art and has been featured in Creative Review, Fast Company, Intersection and The Guardian.
Steven’s 2008 film Made In Queens, (produced by MTV2 Films), profiles a teenage gang from Trinidad who blast 15,000 watts of music from the enormous custom homemade stereos jury-rigged onto their rusty BMX bikes. The film, which premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, has become a cult hit and is currently touring festivals worldwide.