(Photo credit: Girl on Tilt-a-Whirl, Coney Island, NY by Isa Leshko)

Amusement park rides are vehicles for enacting fantasies for both children and adults alike. They simulate flight, daring sea adventures, and encounters with other worldly creatures. From the moment we strap ourselves into our seats, we surrender ourselves to these giant machines and the physical release they provide. The experience combines elation with fear; thrills with chills.

Photographer Isa Leshko’s series of silver gelatin prints, Thrills and Chills, was selected by juror Katherine Ware for the Center’s Portfolio Showcase Volume 4. In the series, Leshko approaches amusement parks both as a bystander–observing rides as they pass her by–and intermittently, as a participant. Both the adolescent excitement and nausea of the park’s attendees–and the multifarious motions and forms of the rides–characterize Leshko’s Holga images. Over the past year, the Thrills and Chills series won two awards at the 2009 Prix de la Photographie, Paris; five prints have been purchased by the Boston Public Library for their permanent collection; and most recently, the series was featured in this month’s edition of Fraction Magazine.

Discussing what the series means to her, Leshko’s artist statement reads:

These images explore the fantastic and sinister place these rides hold in my imagination. With some of these images, I suspend disbelief and embrace the underlying fantasies of these rides. With other images, I examine the tensions that exist between fantasy and reality. I am fascinated by the range of emotions—from anger to shock to disenchantment—that people exhibit in pursuit of the amusement these rides are supposed to provide.

(Photo Credit: Point Pleasant, NJ #1 by Isa Leshko)

(Photo credit: Swing Ride at the Big E by Isa Leshko)

(Photo credit: Waiting by Isa Leshko)

(Photo credit: Alice In Wonderland by Isa Leshko)

(Photo credit: Around the Bend by Isa Leshko)

(Photo Credit: Dangling Legs by Isa Leshko)

(Photo credit: Girls on Buccaneer, Hershey Park, PA by Isa Leshko)

(Photo credit: Roller Coaster Cables, Six Flags, NE by Isa Leshko)

(Photo credit: The Claw, Topsfield Fair, MA by Isa Leshko)

(Photo credit: Flying, Topsfield Fair by Isa Leshko)

(Photo credit: Offering to the Gods by Isa Leshko)

More of Isa’s work can be found at www.isaleshko.com