Overland brings together large-scale photographs that expand the artists’ ongoing visual exploration of the wilderness landscapes of the American South-West.
Since the 1970s, the remote and often hostile terrain of the Western United States, with its naturally surreal rock formations, luminous salt lakes and vast skies, has provided Boyd & Evans with a strange and other-worldly environment in which to contemplate the nature of seeing from their dual perspective.Over the course of their career, Boyd & Evans have used the camera as a notebook to record their experience of the world, the results of which were initially used as rich source material for collaborative paintings. Over the past two decades, photography has become central to their practice, as new digital technologies granted a more painterly approach to photographic collage.
Boyd & Evans’ characteristic panoramic format incorporates as many as 100 individual photographs, stitched together into wide, highly detailed vistas that appear to offer a heightened sense of reality. Often with subtle spatial distortions, or refined shifts of perspective, their images extend beyond the limits of ordinary vision, in what Tyler Cann has called a “playful exploration of perspective and space”.1
The photographs in the current exhibition portray an environment devoid of human presence, yet they reveal traces of civilisation such as railway tracks, desert roads, and abandoned settlements. Produced during a recent journey from California to Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and New Mexico, Boyd & Evans returned to locations they have photographed and painted several times before to witness a constantly evolving, and at times cinematic narrative within the landscape.
In Bombay Beach, CA, a deserted outbuilding stands partially submerged by a pool of water, apparently at odds with the arid soil of the surrounding desert. Bombay Beach, on the eastern shore of the Salton Sea, is a remote community which has suffered from fluctuating water levels, which have partially destroyed certain areas of the town. Disused power lines attest to the abandonment of development in this area, in which nature has proved an unforgiving host.
Similarly, a dilapidated wooden structure in Schelbourne Station NV can be seen to represent the dissolution of hope by those driven to the region by economic necessity, or in order to live off-grid. The vivid oranges and reds produced by the patina of rust on discarded oil drums and an abandoned vehicle are echoed in the surrounding sun-scorched grass, counter-balanced by the impending deluge threatened by the darkening clouds in the distance.
Dramatic cloud formations seen in the endless skies of the desert are a recurring theme, providing a dreamlike poetry to the backdrops of abandoned domestic scenes such as Benton Springs CA, and Burns OR, and in the uninhabited and seemingly alien boulder landscapes of Shafer Trail UT. Presenting this uncanny view of ‘pure’ landscape alongside the attempts made to inhabit and shape it, Boyd & Evans invite the viewer to ponder the various implications of our relationship to the land.