USA: Roadside Attractions of the Southwest—Fragments of a Cultural History
Unlike the images in the preceding portfolio, Ancestral Pueblo Ruins, those gathered here were not originally conceived of as parts of a cohesive project. Most were the fruit of serendipitous encounters and discoveries along the way of road trips that were focused elsewhere—primarily on hiking and landscape photography in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. But being at heart a photographer who is drawn to cultural subjects—to people and to the objects and places they have made—I did not want to miss the special opportunities for cultural photography that occasionally arose out of the spectacular natural landscape. These opportunities were special not only because the density of human settlement is lower in most of the southwest than in many other parts of the country and the world but also because a relatively high proportion of the human traces that can be encountered here are curiosities of one sort or another—often abandoned ruins or, if still thriving, the cultural products of human boldness and originality, eccentricity or excess. These photographs were made on various excursions between 2004 and 2016, and it was only retrospectively that I came to see them cohesively, as random fragments of a cultural history of those who have dwelled in this sometimes beautiful and sometimes forbidding landscape, shaping and exploiting it acording to their varying needs, fears and desires. The emphasis is on structures, signs and symbols, both sacred and profane, the enduring artifacts of the peoples and cultures that have inhabited these spaces in recent centuries, successors to those who made and dwelled in the ancestral pueblos. Hover over an image for specific information regarding the subject and location.