Panavisions – 1998-2002

a series of 80” x 35” C-Prints from digital composites

These panoramic images were constructed from still-frames and found text.  Though they are assembled from various parts of old Westerns, the scenes here are unique and never appeared in any real film.

The text comes chiefly from a century-old book entitled Teach Yourself Arabic.  Some is also drawn from a book of English grammar from the same period, and some is invented.  The ‘Spaghetti-Western’ films that inspired these compositions were shot in Spain.  The landscape fragments that make up these vistas were inhabited by Arabs (Moors) during much of the Middle Ages, and the characteristics of Islamic civilization mark these deserts in ways that, in film, pass for later visions of the American Southwest.  That Southwest is the setting for the American violent mythology of the Cowboy, in which right and wrong, good and bad, value and indifference are hammered out.  There is an aspect of this heritage that lives today in the ongoing paranoia and xenophobia of Americans against Islamic people.

The images here are intended to be beautiful and to offer a suggestive and open-ended combination of elements that peel back some layers of a complex cultural product.  ‘Western’ visual conventions, narratives of violence and power, vastness and deserts, and the rules of right and wrong in thinking and grammar— aspects of all of these are juxtaposed here.