Points of Departure: Mythological Landscape by Kirk Gittings
My initiation into the concept of mythological landscape and the structures that inhabit them began in my childhood, a stones throw from Route 66, while growing up on the Rio Puerco escarpment west of Albuquerque. My horizon was bounded on the north by the Jemez Mountains, on the east by the Sandias, on the south by Ladron Peak and to the west by Mt. Taylor. At the center of this austere desert realm were the inscribed volcanoes (now Petroglyph National Monument). I felt a kind of ill-defined presence in these landforms, but lacking any real cultural mythologies to explain that sense of presence, my brother Kent and I invented personal mythologies, curious mixtures of science fiction laced with fragments of grade school history and our own distant Native American ancestors to enliven the seeming desolation of this high desert realm. Our parents viewed this landscape as empty and lifeless, but we saw it as richly inhabited by the myths of our imaginations.
Many years later while studying anthropology in college (in addition to studying photography), I discovered the real mythologies which resided in these landforms. In the writings of Alfonso Ortiz, Edward Dozier, Frank Waters and eve Tony Hillerman and Rudolfo Anaya, I found that these mountains and trading posts were caricatures of myths of the "cowboy culture" of the American West.
As a photographer, mythological landscape became a part of my aesthetic consciousness fairly recently (though unconsciously it was an element of all earlier projects). My approach is reminiscent of the literary genre "magic realism" suggesting through light form and symbolic subject a stranger, unfamiliar reality lurking behind the thin veneer of our perceived reality.
Kirk Gittings lives and works in New Mexico.
To view more of Kirk's work, please visit his website.