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Coast To Coast: A Road Trip Across America

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Would you travel to America to spend three months in a van with a person you knew via a handful of emails and one afternoon of conversation? That is precisely what Brazilian photographer Gleeson Paulino and German designer and director Nathini van der Meer did.

They met in a small diner in Brooklyn, set up on a professional blind date by a mutual friend with the words, “You two need to meet, it’s important.” After finishing their burgers, they wandered through the streets of Chinatown, sharing past stories, future visions, a number of unsettling deep-fried snacks and countless ‘me too’ moments, until even the last paper lantern went from red to black. They parted ways in dark Manhattan, with the promise to stay in touch. What followed were months of intensive pen-pal-ship and creative discourse, and the next time they would see each other in real life, they were to embark on a three month long coast-to-coast road-trip across the United States via the deep south.

Despite having shared little more than an afternoon of wandering and an armful of emails, the duo crossed the continent like old childhood friends, living out of a wood-paneled minivan, sleeping under the stars and logging close to 10,000 highway miles. Three months in close quarters is a good time to get to know one another to the core of ones being. Exploring the rich terrains of deserts, rivers, swamps and mountains, documenting the vastness and rough natural beauty the US still has to offer, it began to dawn on them, that the America they knew from pop-culture, the land of cowboys and entertainers, stood in stark contrast with a humble mundanity. What they found was the daily struggle of unswerving people, trying to make their days count; chasing what is left of their freedom in an aging new world.

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