Looking at O’Sullivan’s and his colleagues’ photographs of the American West from round the nineteenth century, there is still a question for me of how much they were documents, or if the photographers were consciously part of the making of the myth of the frontier. I like to think it was the latter, since that would make their work even more interesting. There is a work that I relate to these pictures called ‘Park City’ by another American, Lewis Baltz, which seems to be a document of the construction of a suburban neighbourhood, but when looked at more closely is a meticulously orchestrated fiction, in which the construction site looks like a war zone, photographed in black and white, with smoking piles of rubble and buildings which one is not sure is being built or demolished. If I look at that work, it is about the construction and myth of the frontier, but the dark side of that myth, while O’Sullivan’s photographs are optimistic.
It was after seeing ‘Park City’, which is a book, that I understood how to proceed with my recent works. The similarities between construction and destruction and the man-made and the artificial already existed in my photographs, but after seeing his book I understood that I could use that ambiguity as the central idea. Although Baltz made this work 28 years ago, in one specific situation and in black and white, I have taken the point he tried to make and have started anew from where he left it. His ideas are shared, ‘travelling ideas’ that have become an important theme in photography, and it is comforting and challenging at the same time to contribute new work on these ‘travelling ideas’; which for me started with seeing ‘Park City’, but which I know forBaltz could only make after having seen Werner Herzog’s ‘Fata Morgana’. Entrevista a Bas Princen, aqui (.pdf), (via Apperture). galeria, aqui.
de Park City, Lewis Baltz (daqui)