• Two Rivers and a Desert in Between

Toran, Noam, 1900, Show, Exhibition or Event, Two Rivers and a Desert in Between

Abstract or Description:

Two Rivers and a Desert in Between is an elaborate narrative and cinematic meditation on the “West” as an imaginary geography, more idea (or ideal) than place. The project involves the creation of a regional epic narrative set in a specific section of the American Southwest—between the Rio Grande and the Rio Pecos, between southern New Mexico and western Texas. Extending the cultural, economic and imperial histories of the region, the narrative is organised as a fictional story- cycle.

Provincialising the “West” by placing the region into a much larger series of contexts, the project materially and imaginatively traverses multiple narrative and artistic genres, from the conventions of the Western and science fiction, from sculpture and performance art to cinema. The project is a long term one, to be worked on for many years, and in which ‘chapters’ of the narrative will be exhibited separately or in tandem. The project is in collaboration with the writer Keith R. Jones.

The first ‘chapter’ depicts the travels of a Hollywood cinematographer named Orville ‘Bud’ Wanzer who spent the 60’s and 70’s in the region scouting natural and man-made locations for the western and sci-fi films of the era, working with such directors as John Ford, Anthony Mann, Raoul Walsh and John Huston. The result, Bud Wanzer’s Location Scouting Films and Photos for “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean”1971 (2012), were exhibited as part of the show Electric Fields, curated by Mai-Thu Perret, at the HEAD, Geneva in 2013.

The second chapter was commissioned by the Galerie des Galeries, Paris, for the exhibition "La Tyrannie des Objets" (2013). The Melendez Family (2013) examines a portion of shared US-Mexico history from the middle 19th century, in which the Mexican government, being tired of the Apache raids which would decimate their crops and kill their citizens, issued a bounty of 100 pesos for each Indian scalp. As a result, a stream of “scalphunters” – bands of US soldiers and criminals – descended into the Chihuahua region and initiated a series of massacres, often indiscriminately killing and scalping Indians and Mexicans alike. The Mexican government was often unable to distinguish its own citizen’s scalps from those of native Indians, and resigned themselves to paying the scalphunters either way.

The scalp is a problematic, ambivalent object, becoming paradoxically many 'things': Once part of a human body, then a form of currency (being bought and traded), later to be hanging from belts and shoulders of the scalphunters - a perverse fashion accessory - and finally, to be displayed as a historical and ethnographic artifact in museums across the United States.

The scalps were fabricated by the Agatha Haines. "La Tyrannie des Objets" was curated by Alexandra Fau.

Two Rivers and a Desert in BetweenGalerie des Galeries, Paris16 Oct 2013 – 4 Jan 2014Museum/exhibition
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art > W130 Sculpture
Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W290 Design studies not elsewhere classified
Creative Arts and Design > W600 Cinematics and Photography > W620 Cinematography
Creative Arts and Design > W600 Cinematics and Photography > W630 History of Cinematics and Photography
Creative Arts and Design > W800 Imaginative Writing > W810 Scriptwriting
School or Centre: School of Design
Funders: HEAD, Geneva, Galerie des Galeries, Paris, Royal College of Art, London, Fieldwork: Marfa, Texas
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2014 15:49
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2019 15:25
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1611
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