We had a pop-up show for one night, this was what I had printed and installed. It’s hard to sequence them exactly linearly but the last picture gives you an idea what I had in mind. Final sequence can be glimpsed among my exhibition photos here.
Yee-haw State – Joseph Irvin
Coming from Ohio, all I originally knew about Colorado were the stereotypes: mountains, skiing, Coors, and cowboys (this was pre-marijuana). I was initially forced to embrace the Western aesthetic when taking a job as a Jeep tour guide around Colorado Springs, but I’ve gotten into the spirit over time, to the point where it is now a lifestyle. Every time I go to a thrift store I’m looking for more western shirts and cowboy hats to wear on tours. I’m paid to present a certain aspect of Colorado culture/history to visitors and new arrivals, and the boss’s mantra is “Make it like Disneyland!” While it might not have happened quite like that in real life, we live in a postmodern settler society, where the cowboys have traded in their horses for 4x4s. We’re driving them on old wagon trails and railroads. A lot of my time is spent in Garden of the Gods, now the #1 visited park in the country (and it’s being loved to death). In a state that is experiencing massive population increase and a rapidly growing tourism industry, what is it that makes Colorado unique, and what about that are we selling? A lot of people say that they hope I never take this landscape for granted, and I didn’t…back when I moved here. But one does get used to it over time: now it has the familiarity of Home.
Everything was printed on Ilford fiber paper at a custom size of 15×10. I’d got my usual box of Oriental 8×10 but my photo instructor insisted I go bigger which was frustrating because I’d bought this paper months ago in preparation and now had to find something last minute. Thankfully Cameraworks came to my rescue cutting me a deal with some 16×20 Ilford they’d had for a while. I had less than 2 weeks before the show and had to print like mad all day everyday and still didn’t get everything finished, but enough to display at least. I suppose that printing on 11×14 paper would have been easier to frame (I just hung everything with putty) but I had to come up with a plan fast to print as much as possible and use the entire frame. So I cut my 16×20 paper in half, trimmed an extra inch, and made a custom taped-off template. I had a negative holder which showed the edges of the frame so I tried as much as possible to give every print a black border, a nice differentiation to the usual white. I think I’ve ranted before about cropping the side of a 35mm film frame when printing to a 5:4 aspect ratio, something else my photo instructor insisted on was seeing my entire frame. Thankfully everything worked out.