Where the Sky Meets the Earth
After 16 years in Santa Fe, I have come to realize that I will always be an outsider but that fact in no way impedes my ability to have a deep and soulful relationship with this place. I love it down to its dirty fingernails and for its lack of pretension. I love…..
To know a place is to know the textures of its varied skies, how its earth smells and
To know a place fully is to know its history, complicated truths and myriad facets from multiple perspectives.
I may not be able to trace my cultural ancestry or family heritage to this place, but this place is still under my skin, in my bones and in my breath. I can trace its contours like my own body, and in that sense it is surely home.
This is a love letter to a place, to the high desert of Northern New Mexico, to Santa Fe specifically. I love this place down to its dirty fingernails and raw edges, for its lack of polish and pretension. I love it for it's vast sky, scrubby desert, unforgiving light and the ground that holds it's truths. I love how it's authentically itself and wears it's complex history on it's proverbial sleeve. It is indeed The City Different.
I never planned to make a series about this place, and in many ways avoided photographing what is so often caricatured about it, but it has a way of getting under one's skin - deep. Weaving together magical realism, surrealism, place, culture and history to create a view of this place as I have come to know it, these isolated views are meant to invoke it's complex beauty, harsh realities, complicated history, symbols and uniqueness.
Each image is combined with a working photograph of light and/or patina as a device to bridge different physical and symbolic realms.
Just as the Southwest is an ambiguously defined geographic place in the US, it is a place that embodies a multitude of realities. It holds tropes and caricatures, fantasies and harsh realities, military secrets, myriad cultures with interconnected histories, profound poverty and wealth, great beauty and desolation, all in its seemingly spare and vast spaces. It is many things to many people, where magic and reality collide, where we meet ourselves with no place to hide, where the sky meets the earth.
I never planned to make a series about this place - the high desert of New Mexico, Santa Fe and surrounds specifically – but I realized I had already begun documenting this place as I wandered the city, its edge spaces and natural areas. As I began sifting through photos, thinking about this place with a concentrated intention, I quickly realized there was no encapsulating its depth in one series and to try would be hubristic anyway.
Intellectually and philosophically I tend to think of life in complex interconnected ways, photographically I tend to the intimate and isolated (even claustrophobic at times) – honing in on specific elements that are symbolic or referential. It’s my way of parsing out manageable blocks of meaning from the vastness - my way of acknowledging my inability to present this place in it's fullness, but still always reaching to make connections that transcend their simplicity.
What we leave behind – our marks on a place, intentional or not – say much about who we are and what we are experiencing.
Given that, it seemed a fitting to present a view of this vast place through discreet views.
Where the grand meets the mundane, where we might catch a glimpse of the sublime in the detritus of living.
It is absurd the way I love this country… I am loving the plains more than ever it seems — and the SKY — Anita you have never seen SKY — it is wonderful — G.O'K.