paradise falls, new mexico

paradise falls, new mexico
16mm, b&w, dual projection, optical sound, 5 minutes, 2004

A lone man packing a gun; themes of vengeance; justice; masculinity; the culminating formulaic shoot out. These are the ingredients for the ultimate Western. With outlaws, lawmen, breath-taking settings and an alluring simplicity, the Western presumes to represent the past, however mythical or imagined.

Contrasting ghost towns from the true west with popular images from Hollywood westerns, paradise falls, new mexico constructs an imaginary past. Hand processing and emulsion lifts serve to strip away the myths behind the western footage, challenging the history they misleadingly represent.

ghosttowns (documented spring 2001):
tumco, ca – 1880 to 1909
vulture, az- 1880 to 1897
fort bowie, az – 1862 to 1894
ruby, az – 1912 to 1941
aruvica, az – 1812 to present
riely, nm – 1880 to 1931

The desert wind from America’s Southwestern ghost towns blows through the film’s emulsion, stripping away the myth behind the imagery of shoot-outs, outlaws and the lone gunmen from Hollywood Westerns. [Images Festival 2004]